Below are comments from Big Ten Country contributor Steve Rhoads, who lives just outside Madison and his wife is a Wisconsin alum. Steve discusses the bowl prospects of the Badgers, the Big Ten in general and also that of his own alma mater, the Virginia Tech Hokies out here in ACC territory, where I live, just outside of Baltimore. For anyone wondering how it is I'm editing Big Ten Country, I "grew up" (for lack of a better term) outside Milwaukee and lived in the Midwest until I was almost 30. I'm living proof that you can take the boy out of the Big Ten, but you can't take the Big Ten out of the boy. Anyway, here's Steve's remarks, along with some of my own...
"UW will probably go to the Insight Bowl with a win over Minnesota and the Motor City Bowl with a loss. I think the Champs Sports and possibly Alamo are still in play, with a win. I think Iowa basically got the inside track on the Outback bid with their upset win on Saturday...unless Minnesota can pull out back to back wins against Wisconsin (Axe) and Iowa (Floyd of Rosedale), then they will deserve it at 9-3.
I disagree those who say the Big Ten is in serious jeopardy of not getting two BCS bids. My response is "If not the Big Ten, who else?" The SEC and Big 12 are locked in for 2 of the 4 At-Larges, but you cannot have 3 teams from one conference. Notre Dame is out, and the ACC, Big East and Pac 10 are virtual locks NOT to get two bids. That leaves the Big Ten and the non-BCS leagues. It seems a certainty that the non-BCS leagues will get at least one bid this year, most likely Utah. But will this be the year there are two non-BCS league bids? Very, very unlikely. It comes down to who would they rather have: Ohio State or Boise State/Ball State? That is a no-brainer. Plus, the BCS will not want to have two teams from small conferences playing in BCS Bowls. They are a hard sell. So count the Big Ten for two BCS bids. The sleeper is Michigan State, who could sneak out a bid with a win over Penn State, but it would probably have to be coupled with another Ohio State loss for them to go to the BCS. That scenario puts them in Pasadena.
Though I like my Hokies chance at getting to the ACC Championship, you still have to like my North Carolina pre-season pick. They are 7-2, with three highly winnable games (MD, NC St and Duke) and that would win the ACC Coastal, unless VT can also run the table. My guess is that one of the teams runs the table, but the other doesn't."
For the most part I agree. One caveat I would add is that I think Minnesota's position for the Outback is stronger then Steve seems to think. I believe the Gophers get the bid if they beat Iowa and their game in Madison is largely irrelevant (unless they're just blown out). The Minnesota-Iowa game is essentially what the race for the last January 1 berth boils down to.
I also think Wisconsin is Alamo-bound if they beat Minnesota and Cal-Poly. The Badgers haven't been to San Antonio since 2002 and remain of the league's most attractive options for a minor bowl because of the way fans travel. If UW ends up 6-6, I would concur that they're Motor City-bound.
Bowl projections are updated.