Big Ten Country's bowl projection page has been updated. But the weekly projections deal with the major bowl bids and the Big Ten's two New Year's Day games in Florida. In the meantime, the conference has ten teams at .500 or better and angling for a nice holiday vacation. Where do they all fit in?
I've got four teams already slotted in on the projection page: Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State and Illinois. But this presupposes one very debatable point--I'm picking the Wolverines to beat OSU. The Buckeyes' record is strong enough to get an at-large slot to the BCS. Because of Michigan's bad start, it's unlikely that they can pick up a bid if they lose another game and don't get the automatic slot. So in going through these second-tier projections, keep in mind that an Ohio State win pushes Michigan into one of the New Year's Day games. Which pushes Penn State or Illinois down into this list. Which pushes somebody out.
There are four bowls prior to January 1 that are committed to taking a Big Ten team. In order of importance, they are Alamo, Champs Sports, Insight and Motor City. In contention for these spots are Wisconsin (7-3), Purdue (7-3), Indiana (6-4), Iowa (5-5) and Michigan State (5-5).
The Badgers and Boilermakers are all but locked in. In fact, Wisconsin can still harbor hopes of climbing on to January 1 if they can beat Michigan in Camp Randall this weekend. Iowa is also very well situated, with games only against Western Michigan and Minnesota. So UW, Purdue and Iowa grab three of the available bids.
Now it's get tough. Indiana plays Northwestern this week in an absolutely huge football game (arguably the first time that statement has ever been uttered in human history). The Hoosiers finish up at home against Purdue, while Northwestern plays Illinois in the finale. Michigan State has to visit West Lafayette this weekend and host Penn State the following. Both games look very competitive, but I'm not ready to pick the Spartans. So I'm crossing them off my short list for the last spot.
I'll take Indiana to get the win over Northwestern and earn the last bid available. From there, we can guess the selections will fall as follows:
Alamo: Wisconsin. The Badgers haven't been here since 2002, and would be a good fit.
Champs Sports: The options here are limited. Purdue played here last year, and presumably the bowl game would not want them back. If by chance, Wisconsin falls in their lap, that's not the blessing it might appear. This game is in Orlando, which is the same place UW has traveled the last two years for the Capital One. Their fans might not get excited about not only going to the same place, but to a lesser bowl. So Champs is praying that Iowa wins out and they can give the bid to the Hawks.
Insight: Purdue. A Big 12 team awaits. One thing that could alter the selection is if the Big 12 foe is Texas Tech. A minor bowl game might jump at the free publicity that comes with an Indiana-Texas Tech game, even if it's not in basketball.
Motor City: Indiana. After Terry Hoeppner's passing, perhaps no team will appreciate December in Detroit as much as the Hoosiers would.
That's the general landscape for the teams below the radar. But they can't lose sight of one thing: They need to be Michigan fans on November 17