Big Ten Week 5 bowl projections: Iowa, Northwestern surging


It was a wild and wonderful first weekend of full-fledged conference play in the Big Ten.

And how about those West Division standings? Iowa, Northwestern and Illinois are tied for first place. Raise your hand if you had that in the summer. (Now put your hand down, you liar).

Saturday's results shook up our bowl projections a bit. Iowa and Northwestern, arguably the two most impressive teams in the league through five weeks, climb up the ladder.

Minnesota and Nebraska are hanging on, but wheezing. Looking at their remaining schedules, it's far from guaranteed that either the Golden Gophers or Cornhuskers will qualify for a bowl, as hard as that is to believe. But we'll stick with them for now.

The biggest change this week is that we're putting Illinois in the postseason. The Illini (4-1) have a lot of work left to do, but they do have winnable games left against Purdue, Minnesota and Penn State, though all are on the road. We'll give them the benefit of the doubt for now after a nice win against Nebraska.

The powers at the top hold on, despite some shakiness. Ohio State might not be a playoff team on merit right now, but if it manages to run the table and win the Big Ten, there's little doubt the Buckeyes will get in. The dream of two Big Ten playoff teams in the field of four is all but dead.

A whole lot more will certainly change over the next few weeks, but here are this week's projections:

College Football Playoff: Ohio State

Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual: Michigan State

Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl: Iowa

Outback Bowl: Northwestern

National University Holiday Bowl: Michigan

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl: Wisconsin

New Era Pinstripe Bowl: Nebraska

Foster Farms Bowl: Minnesota

Quick Lane Bowl: Indiana

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl: Penn State

At-large: Illinois