- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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If only Ohio State were eligible for the postseason, our bowl projections would be a lot easier. We could just slot the Buckeyes into the Rose Bowl and work from there.
But it's not that easy. While the Buckeyes look like the class of the Big Ten at this point, they can't go to Pasadena. Somebody has to go. We're just not entirely sure who that is.
One thing is clear: After Nebraska got smoked 63-38 by the Buckeyes, the Huskers are dropping from the top spot in our bowl projections. Not that the Huskers can't get there; they still get the benefit of playing Michigan at home, and their toughest remaining road game is against a far-from-impressive Michigan State club. But you don't lose the way Nebraska did and stay on top in these kinds of projections.
That's why we're going with ... Michigan. Yes, two-loss Michigan. The Wolverines' defeats came against a pair of top-10 teams. Their Big Ten-opening 44-13 win at Purdue was mighty impressive, and the defense seems to be improving by the week. The maize and blue are not a no-doubt choice by any means, but at least they're a choice.
The Boilermakers take a big tumble in our projections after the humbling home loss. Northwestern drops a notch as well. Although Wisconsin wasn't great against Illinois until late, the Badgers look like a safer choice to take the Leaders Division spot in Indianapolis, so they move up.
We'd be lying if we said we had any clear idea of the bowl pecking order right now, but here's our latest stab at projecting the postseason ...
Rose Bowl, Jan. 1: Michigan
Capital One Bowl, Jan. 1: Nebraska
Outback Bowl, Jan. 1: Wisconsin
Gator Bowl, Jan. 1: Michigan State
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, Dec. 29: Northwestern
Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas, Dec. 28: Iowa
Heart of Dallas Bowl, Jan. 1: Purdue
Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, Dec. 26: Minnesota
8hDavid M. Hale