Commentary: Big Ten Bowl Projections and Weeks 11 and 12 Preview
by Jonathan Hodges
The Big Ten conference underwent a significant shakeup this past week with
Northwestern's big upset over previously unbeaten Iowa and Ohio State's high
profile win at Penn State. Also, with Illinois' win in Minnesota and Purdue's
win over the Wolverines, every team in the conference remains in the running for
bowl eligibility, making the bowl picture that much more
First, the current bowl projections, then, previews of the big
games down the stretch (* denotes already bowl eligible):
Bowl: Ohio State* (8-2, 5-1), BCS No. 11
Capital One Bowl: Iowa*
(9-1, 5-1), BCS No. 10
Outback Bowl: Penn State* (8-2, 4-2), BCS No.
Champs Sports Bowl: Wisconsin* (7-2, 4-2), BCS No. 20
Bowl: Winner of: Michigan State (5-5, 3-3) @ Purdue (4-6, 3-3)
Bowl: Northwestern* (6-4, 3-3)
Pizza Bowl: Minnesota (5-5, 3-4)
Some interesting decisions will come out of the Champs Sports,
Alamo, and Insight Bowls who hosted Wisconsin, Northwestern, and Minnesota
(respectively) last season: Will they be willing to host any of those schools
for two consecutive seasons? And how will these bowls evaluate a slew of teams
with six and seven wins?
Ohio State: The winner is virtually assured of the Rose Bowl berth (assuming
they don't slip up against Minnesota or Michigan, respectively). The key is
that OSU is playing its best football of the season while Iowa has lost its key
playmaking QB at least for another week.
Michigan State @ Purdue:
The winner becomes bowl eligible while the loser faces either virtual
elimination (MSU, who must face a tough PSU team the final week) or actual
elimination (Purdue already has six losses).
Illinois: Northwestern tries to guarantee itself a bowl berth and move up
the bowl ladder after last week's big upset, while Illinois is suddenly playing
well and looking to hang onto its slim bowl hopes.
Indiana @ Penn
State: PSU still has a shot at a BCS game (they must rise four spots by the
end of the regular season) and they'll give it a go on Saturday, while Indiana
is hanging onto fading bowl hopes.
Michigan @ Wisconsin:
Wisconsin looks to establish itself as the clear number four team in the
conference while Michigan must win another game or else they'll miss a bowl for
the second consecutive season.
Wisconsin @ Northwestern: This game is vital for both
teams' bowl position. Wisconsin will try to stay in the upper echelon while NU
tries to take them off of the perch.
Penn State @ Michigan State:
MSU could be playing this one for their bowl lives, while Penn State will be
seeking a boost for their BCS bowl hopes. It will be interesting to see which
Michigan State team shows up (the one that took Iowa to the wire or the one that
lost to Central Michigan).
Minnesota @ Iowa: Assuming Iowa falls
to Ohio State a week earlier, they'll be trying to hang onto the number two spot
in the conference and a high profile bowl. If they run a three game losing
streak, they could begin to slip down the bowl ladder. Meanwhile, Minnesota
will be looking to move up and avoid getting stuck in Detroit.
@ Indiana: This game all depends on the previous week's results. One or
both teams could still have their bowl hopes alive, making this a bowl play-in
game. Otherwise, this will end up being an end of season trophy game of no
concern for the rest of the conference.
Ohio State @ Michigan: You
can't talk about the Big Ten without mentioning this game. If Michigan loses,
they'll have one more shot at bowl eligibility and would love nothing more than
knocking off OSU to do it. If OSU beats Iowa, this game would be meaningless in
the conference race.
BCS At-Large Berths
Ten has a good chance to get an at-large representative in a BCS bowl, even
after Iowa's upset loss last week. The reason is because there just aren't that
many attractive at-large teams available in the top 14 (the requirement for BCS
There will likely be three available with No. 4
TCU currently in the lead to lock up one of the four at-large spots,
automatically qualifying as the top "mid-major" (they currently have a
significant lead over Boise State at No. 6). And with the loser of the SEC
Championship Game essentially assured of an at-large spot, that leaves two slots
Even with some key games left, the Pac 10 is likely to fill
one of those spots, with USC and Oregon in the top 14 with Arizona, who still
plays both of those teams, sitting at No. 17.
That leaves one BCS slot
open for either the Big Ten, Big East, ACC, or Big XII.
- The Big Ten has
Penn State, who, as mentioned, will try to move up four slots with just two
games remaining against Indiana and Michigan State. Note that Iowa and Ohio
State are both currently in the top 14, but they face each other next week. If
Iowa loses and doesn't fall that far (and manages to beat Minnesota in their
finale), they could technically remain in the mix.
- The Big XII has an
outside shot with their second highest team being Oklahoma State at No. 19, who
must win out against Texas Tech, Colorado, and at Oklahoma.
- The Big
East, despite having two teams in the top 14, will likely only get one since
those two teams (Cincinnati and Pittsburgh) must still play each other. The key
will be how far the loser of that game drops and if they can both avoid losses
to West Virginia, who they still plays both of them.
- The ACC looks to
be a lock with Georgia Tech, but Miami (FL) is currently in the mix at No. 14,
but they must avoid losses down the stretch to keep their ranking high enough.
If Georgia Tech is upset in the championship game (they likely will face
Clemson, who they already beat this year 30-27), then it throws a wrench into
everything depending on how far GT falls and if any bowl is willing to take them
The conclusion is that it's just too early to tell, with
some key matchups left that will determine how it all shakes out. It will come
down to the final week of play, even with most of the Big Ten already finished
with their seasons, and, as usual, it will have a ripple effect down the
conference in terms of bowl placement.
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is the primary content provider of HailToPurple.com. His commentary
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