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Sunday, October 21, 2012
Big Ten bowl projections: Week 9

By Adam Rittenberg and Brian Bennett

It sounds like a broken record, but the Big Ten bowl projections would be a lot more interesting if Ohio State and Penn State were eligible. Two more teams would be in the mix for a league title and a Rose Bowl berth. Ohio State certainly would be considered for a BCS at-large bid if it didn't win the league but finished with, say, one loss.

Alas, the Buckeyes and Lions are staying home for the holidays, and despite a lot of exciting games around the Big Ten in Week 8, the bowl projections don't feature many changes.

We still project Michigan to the Rose Bowl and Wisconsin to the Capital One Bowl. The Badgers are on the verge of clinching a spot in the Big Ten title game, while the winner of Saturday's showdown between Michigan and Nebraska in Lincoln will have the upper hand in the Legends Division. For now, Nebraska is projected to the Outback -- the Huskers went to the Capital One last year -- but things will change if Big Red beats Michigan.

Northwestern and Iowa flip in the projections after the Hawkeyes' poor showing on their home field against Penn State. Michigan State sits at 4-4 and has some work to do simply to become bowl-eligible. Like the Spartans, Iowa needs two more wins but still has games left against both Indiana schools. Both Purdue and Minnesota are looking like shaky bowl picks at 0-3 in league play, but for now, we'll keep the Boilers and Gophers in the projections. The two teams meet this week at TCF Bank Stadium, and the winner should be in decent shape to make the postseason. Indiana's postseason hopes took a major blow as the Hoosiers squandered a late lead against Navy.

Between Iowa, Michigan State, Purdue and Minnesota, it's very possible one or more misses the postseason. We'll learn a lot in the next two weeks.

Here's our latest stab at projecting the postseason: