Big Ten Week 8 bowl projections: Michigan takes over top spot

The big news in the new bowl projections would seem to be Ohio State's loss at Penn State.

And, yes, we're moving Michigan, which you may recall hammered Penn State 49-10 last month, into the College Football Playoff tier. But in reality, the Buckeyes' loss didn't change all that much. If Ohio State wins out -- including a win over the Wolverines on Nov. 26, at home -- they're almost certainly going to the playoff. A one-loss Big Ten champ is in all likelihood getting in, especially given the strength of the conference this year.

So that will be settled on the field. There are actually more interesting things happening in the down-ballot races, to borrow a trendy political term, particularly in the West division.

After Wisconsin won at Iowa, the Badgers have set up what appears to be a two-week playoff for the West title. Nebraska goes to Madison this Saturday, followed by Wisconsin's trip to Northwestern, a suddenly resurgent team. Yes, those same Wildcats who started 0-2 by losing to Western Michigan and Illinois State at home have now won three straight in impressive fashion and have one of the hottest offenses in the Big Ten.

Pat Fitzgerald's team is on the rise, while Iowa -- the defending division champ -- is on the decline. The Hawkeyes fell to 5-3 and still have games left at Penn State and at home against top-10 teams Michigan and Nebraska. A 6-6 finish is on the table.

Maryland now looks likely to get to a bowl after beating Michigan State for win No. 5. Indiana has been in our bowl projections, but after losing their third straight game, the Hoosiers are in serious danger of missing the postseason now. They're out of the projections until they show us something more. And Michigan State? Its bowl hopes are pretty much kaput at this point, after five straight losses and games remaining against Michigan and Ohio State.

The latest projections ...

College Football Playoff: Michigan

Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual: Ohio State

Capital One Orange Bowl: Wisconsin

Outback Bowl: Nebraska

Holiday Bowl: Penn State

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl: Northwestern

New Era Pinstripe Bowl: Iowa

Foster Farms Bowl: Minnesota

Quick Lane Bowl: Maryland

Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl: Not filled