With 12 weeks down and two left in the regular season, there are some things we know when it comes to the Big Ten bowl picture.
We know that Purdue and Illinois are not going bowling, along with Penn State, which is ineligible. We know that Northwestern (agsinst Michigan State) and Indiana (against Ohio State) will both have to pull off a Hail Mary win this week and then win again next week against rivals to get to 6-6. We don't think either of those teams will do it.
So that leaves only seven teams from the Big Ten to go bowling. The league has eight bowl tie-ins. In other words, don't buy tickets to the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl if you want to see a Big Ten team in action this postseason.
The biggest question remains whether the conference can grab a BCS at-large spot. Wisconsin and Michigan State are moving up in the BCS standings, and there's always the possibility that the Spartans knock off Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game, sending MSU to Pasadena and the Buckeyes to an at-large spot.
But we don't foresee that happening ... yet. We do have one major change to the projections, moving Michigan State to the Capital One Bowl ahead of Wisconsin. While conference title game losers have had a hard time getting BCS at-large bids, Nebraska did go to the Capital One Bowl last season after getting blown out in Indianapolis. Michigan State could have an 11-1 regular season and unbeaten Big Ten season, so the league and the bowl might want to see the Spartans go to the conference's top non-BCS bowl if they were to lose to Ohio State. (Michigan State's defense versus Johnny Football in the Cap One? I'd watch that.)
We now have a potential 10-2 Wisconsin going to the Outback Bowl, and Nebraska -- whose fans are a little sick of Florida -- heading to Arizona for some free wings. Michigan stays ahead of Minnesota in our projections, largely due to fan base/travel issues. Beating Northwestern was huge for the Wolverines' bowl status.
Our latest projections:
Rose Bowl Presented by VIZIO, Jan. 1: Ohio State
Capital One Bowl, Jan. 1: Michigan State
Outback Bowl, Jan. 1: Wisconsin
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, Dec. 28: Nebraska
TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl, Jan. 1: Michigan
Texas Bowl, Dec. 27: Minnesota
Heart of Dallas Bowl, Jan. 1: Iowa
Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, Dec. 26: Not filled