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Sunday, November 4, 2012
Big Ten bowl projections: Week 11

By Brian Bennett and Adam Rittenberg

With just three weeks to go in the regular season, some teams are running out of time in their quest to make a bowl. As a result, we're running out of eligible teams to put in our bowl projections.

As we wrote earlier on Sunday, the Big Ten could have its smallest bowl contingent (five teams) since 1998, back when the league had only 11 teams. Right now, only Nebraska, Michigan, Wisconsin and Northwestern are guaranteed to make the postseason. Minnesota and Michigan State each have five wins and will play each other this month, so at least one of those teams will go bowling.

After that, it gets iffy. We are no longer projecting Iowa -- which is 4-5 with games left at Michigan and home against Nebraska -- to make a bowl game. Purdue already has six losses and does not look capable or particularly interested in winning three straight. Indiana is on the cusp at 4-5, but the Hoosiers will need to beat Wisconsin this week or win at Penn State on Nov. 17 to have a chance. So we're holding off on putting them in a bowl for now.

Nebraska, which is in good shape to make it to the Big Ten title game, remains atop our projections. Michigan and Wisconsin hold serve. While the Gator Bowl might not be thrilled about the prospect of taking Northwestern, at this point its only better options might be a 7-5 Michigan State or a 6-6 Minnesota squad. So the Wildcats move up.

Sorry to break your heart, Heart of Dallas Bowl, but we don't have a Big Ten team eligible for your game in our latest projections, which look like this:

Rose Bowl, Jan. 1: Nebraska
Capital One Bowl, Jan. 1: Michigan
Outback Bowl, Jan. 1: Wisconsin
Gator Bowl, Jan. 1: Northwestern
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, Dec. 29: Michigan State
Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas, Dec. 28: Minnesota
Heart of Dallas Bowl, Jan. 1: At-large (not filled by Big Ten)
Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, Dec. 26: At-large (not filled by Big Ten)