Big Ten: 2010 bowl countdown

Big Ten bowl projections: Week 13

November, 28, 2010
11/28/10
8:30
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The Big Ten's big three all won Saturday, so the projected selection order doesn't change.

Is it fair to Michigan State? Absolutely not. But the bowl system never claimed to be fair. The Spartans have a strong case for BCS selection based on what happened between the lines, but these decisions typically are based on outside factors. Maybe the big bowls surprise us this year, but Michigan State almost certainly will be on the outside looking in.

Saturday wasn't good for the Big Ten's other bowl eligible teams, aside from Illinois, which didn't play. Northwestern and Michigan both ended the regular season with back-to-back blowout losses, while Iowa ended on a three-game slide. While Penn State showed more fire in its game against Michigan State, the Lions clearly aren't an elite squad this year.

The most interesting decision rests with the Outback Bowl, which likely will decide between Penn State and Iowa.

Illinois' regular-season finale on Friday at Fresno State could impact things, although I don't think it will.

My projections are exactly the same as they were a week ago:

Rose Bowl: Wisconsin vs. BCS team

Sugar or Orange Bowl: Ohio State vs. BCS team

Capital One Bowl: Michigan State vs. SEC team

Outback Bowl: Penn State vs. SEC team

Gator Bowl: Iowa vs. SEC team

Insight Bowl: Michigan vs. Big 12 team

Texas Bowl: Illinois vs. Big 12 team

TicketCity Bowl: Northwestern vs. Big 12 team

The Big Ten won't fill its slot in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. Purdue, Indiana and Minnesota aren't bowl eligible.

Big Ten bowl projections: Week 12

November, 21, 2010
11/21/10
6:00
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There were some tense moments for both Ohio State and Michigan State on Saturday, but the Big Ten's big three remained intact for another week.

I've been projecting Michigan State to lose to Penn State in the regular-season finale for several weeks. While I'm not 100 percent sure I'll stick with that prediction -- the Spartans' big scare might have come at home against Purdue -- it won't affect the order of my projections.

Unfortunately for the Spartans, whether they win or lose against Penn State, they're likely headed to the Capital One Bowl unless Wisconsin or Ohio State loses. And I can't fathom either the Badgers or Buckeyes stumbling at home this week.

Penn State could leapfrog Iowa for the Outback Bowl if the Nittany Lions upset the Spartans. Iowa is struggling down the stretch, while Penn State would win five of its final six games if it knocks off Michigan State.

Illinois is now bowl eligible, and the Illini might leapfrog Northwestern after an impressive win against the Wildcats on Saturday at Wrigley Field. If Illinois continues to put up big offensive numbers and beats Fresno State on Dec. 3, it will be more attractive than a Northwestern team that has lost star quarterback Dan Persa to an injury.

Here's how I see things shaking out:

Rose Bowl: Wisconsin vs. BCS team

Fiesta/Sugar/Orange Bowl: Ohio State vs. BCS team

Capital One Bowl: Michigan State vs. SEC team

Outback Bowl: Penn State vs. SEC team

Gator Bowl: Iowa vs. SEC team

Insight Bowl: Michigan vs. Big 12 team

Texas Bowl: Illinois vs. Big 12 team

TicketCity Bowl: Northwestern vs. Big 12 team

The Big Ten isn't projected to fill its slot in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. Minnesota, Indiana and Purdue can't get bowl eligible.

Big Ten bowl projections: Week 11

November, 14, 2010
11/14/10
8:30
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Barring a slew of upsets in the final two weeks, the Big Ten now has three teams competing for two BCS bowl spots.

The big question: Will Wisconsin, Ohio State and Michigan State all win out?

It's certainly possible, but I tend to think that Iowa's loss at Northwestern isn't the final plot twist in the Big Ten race. Although Penn State certainly didn't look great in the final 30 minutes in Columbus, I still think the Nittany Lions will pose a tough matchup for Michigan State on Nov. 27. The Spartans are a very good team that has proven it can overcome adversity, but can they handle Happy Valley in what could be the biggest game in recent team history?

For now, I'm sticking with my Penn State pick over Michigan State, as well as Ohio State beating Iowa this week. Both Wisconsin and Ohio State are projected to win out.

Will Illinois become bowl eligible? I'm not so sure any more, but I'm giving Ron Zook's crew the benefit of the doubt.

Again, these are subject to change in a week, but here's how I see things shaking out.

Rose Bowl: Wisconsin vs. BCS team

Fiesta/Sugar/Orange Bowl: Ohio State vs. BCS team

Capital One Bowl: Michigan State vs. SEC team

Outback Bowl: Iowa vs. SEC team

Gator Bowl: Penn State vs. SEC team

Insight Bowl: Michigan vs. Big 12 team

Texas Bowl: Northwestern vs. Big 12 team

TicketCity Bowl: Illinois vs. Big 12 team

The Big Ten isn't projected to fill its slot in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. Minnesota can't get bowl eligible, and neither Purdue nor Indiana is projected to do so.

Big Ten bowl projections

November, 7, 2010
11/07/10
8:30
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Iowa was lucky to get out of Bloomington with a victory. The Hawkeyes aren't so fortunate in this round of Big Ten bowl projections.

I'm now projecting Iowa to lose to Ohio State on Nov. 20. I could change my mind based on the results of Nov. 13, but Ohio State's November record under Jim Tressel combined with an Iowa team that lacks the consistency I'd like to see has led to the switch.

The other new element I'm projecting is a Penn State victory against Michigan State on Nov. 27. This isn't a knock on the Spartans as much as it is what I'm seeing from Penn State in recent weeks. The Nittany Lions are growing up, gaining confidence and starting to show their talent. Michigan State didn't handle a raucous environment in Iowa City, and Penn State will have all the intangibles on its side for the regular-season finale at Beaver Stadium.

Right now, I'm projecting both Wisconsin and Ohio State to win out, which would result in a first-place tie at 7-1 in league play. Wisconsin wins the tiebreaker because of its head-to-head win Oct. 16.

Penn State and Michigan also move up in this week's projections, while Illinois drops.

Here they are:

Rose Bowl: Wisconsin vs. BCS team

Fiesta/Sugar/Orange Bowl: Ohio State vs. BCS team

Capital One Bowl: Michigan State vs. SEC team

Outback Bowl: Iowa vs. SEC team

Gator Bowl: Penn State vs. SEC Team

Insight Bowl: Michigan vs. Big 12 team

Texas Bowl: Illinois vs. Big 12 team

Dallas Football Classic: Northwestern vs. Big 12 team

The Big Ten won't fill its slot in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. Minnesota can't get bowl eligible, and neither Purdue nor Indiana is projected to do so.

Big Ten bowl projections

October, 31, 2010
10/31/10
8:30
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Michigan State's loss to Iowa sets up what will be one of the wildest and most exciting Big Ten title races in recent memory.

Four squads enter November with one conference loss, and each team has a chance to play in Pasadena on New Year's Day, if things fall right.

There's no way to do these projections without predicting the final regular-season records for Wisconsin, Michigan State, Iowa and Ohio State.

Without further ado, here's what I'm projecting:
  • Wisconsin wins out to finish 11-1 (7-1 Big Ten)
  • Michigan State wins out to finish 11-1 (7-1 Big Ten)
  • Iowa wins out to finish 10-2 (7-1 Big Ten)
  • Ohio State stumbles in Iowa City, but wins its other games to finish 10-2 (6-2 Big Ten)

We would be left with a three-team tie atop the league between Wisconsin, Michigan State and Iowa. Since each team owns a victory against the other, the first tiebreaker would be overall record, which would eliminate Iowa. Wisconsin and Michigan State then would revert to the two-team tiebreaker, and Michigan State would go to the Rose Bowl based on its head-to-head win Oct. 2.

Keep in mind these are subject to change and will change depending on how teams perform each week.

OK, let's get to it.

Rose Bowl: Michigan State vs. BCS team

Fiesta/Sugar/Orange Bowl: Wisconsin vs. BCS team

Capital One Bowl: Iowa vs. SEC team

Outback Bowl: Ohio State vs. SEC team

Gator Bowl: Illinois vs. SEC team

Insight Bowl: Penn State vs. Big 12 team

Texas Bowl: Northwestern vs. Big 12 team

Dallas Football Classic: Michigan vs. Big 12 team

Big Ten bowl projections: Week 9

October, 24, 2010
10/24/10
8:30
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Wisconsin's road win against Iowa shuffles the bowl projections this week, especially after Michigan State survived a scare against Northwestern. Bret Bielema's Badgers now enter a bye week before a very manageable closing slate.

The likelihood of Wisconsin ending the season 11-1 certainly increased Saturday. The big problem is that the Badgers lost the wrong game and still likely need Michigan State to lose twice to move past the Spartans in the pecking order.

Iowa now needs to win out to have a shot at a BCS bowl, and while the Hawkeyes' home schedule should help them, I don't see this happening.

Michigan State still controls its own destiny, but it's extremely hard to win 12 consecutive games. And a Spartans loss would cost them in the final BCS standings if Ohio State wins out.

That leaves Ohio State, a team that always plays its best football in November under Jim Tressel.

The Big Ten remains in very good shape to send two teams to BCS bowls for the fifth consecutive season. Among Michigan State, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Iowa, I have a hard time seeing only one BCS bowl entry from the Big Ten.

Illinois seems destined to end its two-year bowl drought and could end up in a higher-tier game, while the bottom of the league isn't easy to project.

As always, these will change, but here's how I see things shaking out.

Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. BCS team

Fiesta/Sugar/Orange Bowl: Michigan State vs. BCS team

Capital One Bowl: Wisconsin vs. SEC team

Outback Bowl: Iowa vs. SEC team

Gator Bowl: Illinois vs. SEC team

Insight Bowl: Michigan vs. Big 12 team

Texas Bowl: Penn State vs. Big 12 team

Dallas Football Classic: Northwestern vs. Big 12 team

Little Caesars Pizza Bowl: Purdue vs. MAC team

Big Ten bowl projections: Week 8

October, 17, 2010
10/17/10
8:30
PM ET
The bowl projections are back. Every Sunday for the rest of the regular season, I'll attempt to forecast where Big Ten teams will be heading for the holidays.

Ohio State's loss to Wisconsin makes Michigan State the Big Ten's lone unbeaten squad and the league's only realistic hope for the BCS championship game. But even if the Spartans run the table, I'm not sure they would get to Glendale because their remaining schedule includes only one ranked opponent (Oct. 30 at Iowa). While it's hard to see any undefeated Big Ten team being left out of the championship game, Michigan State has an uphill climb after entering the season unranked (therein lies the problem with preseason polls).

The Big Ten has sent two teams to BCS bowls for each of the past five years, and I see no reason why the streak would end this fall. Between Michigan State, Iowa, Ohio State and Wisconsin, two squads will go to the big bowls. I just can't see the bowl committees passing up these huge fan bases.

I also could envision 10 Big Ten squads become bowl eligible with six wins, although I can't see all 10 being selected for postseason games.

Here's a look at how I see the Big Ten bowls shaking out.

Rose Bowl: Iowa vs. BCS team

Fiesta/Sugar/Orange Bowl: Michigan State vs. BCS team

Capital One: Ohio State vs. SEC team

Outback: Wisconsin vs. SEC team

Gator: Illinois vs. SEC team

Insight Bowl: Michigan vs. Big 12 team

Texas Bowl: Northwestern vs. Big 12 team

Dallas Football Classic: Penn State vs. Big 12 team

Little Caesars Pizza Bowl: Purdue vs. MAC team

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