With just one week to go before championship week, we know exactly which Big Ten teams are going bowling and which ones are staying home. And we've got some big changes in our bowl projections.
For the first time, we are now projecting the conference to get an at-large bid. Our thinking goes like this: Oregon's loss to Arizona (thanks, RichRod!) means the Pac-12 could be limited to one bid. If Clemson loses to South Carolina this week, the Tigers might not get an at-large bid coming off a loss. And Orange Bowl officials, who are desperate to fill seats after some undesirable matchups in recent years, would rather bet on a Big Ten team and its huge fan base than on Baylor, a program that has trouble filling its own stadium.
So which Big Ten team do we see heading to Miami? Right now, it's Wisconsin. We think the Badgers, who should end the year on a seven-game winning streak, get the slight nod over Michigan State, which will be an underdog to Ohio State in the Big Ten title game. But check back with us on that in a week.
That keeps Michigan State in the Capital One Bowl for now. We have a potential 9-3 Nebraska going back to Florida in the Outback Bowl, while Iowa -- which could finish two wins behind the Huskers unless it pulls off the victory in Lincoln on Friday -- heads back to familiar territory in Phoenix.
The Gator Bowl would choose between Minnesota and Michigan, two squads likely ending the season on losing streaks. Although Gator Bowl officials have been known for going with the big name (see: a 6-6 Ohio State team in 2011), there's way more enthusiasm around Minnesota than Michigan right now. Minnesota athletic director Norwood Teague has some selling to do, but we think he'll get the job done and get the Gophers to Jacksonville. That puts Michigan in the Texas Bowl.
The full projections:
Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO, Jan. 1: Ohio State
Discover Orange Bowl, Jan. 3: Wisconsin
Capital One Bowl, Jan. 1: Michigan State
Outback Bowl, Jan. 1: Nebraska
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, Dec. 28: Iowa
TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl, Jan. 1: Minnesota
Texas Bowl, Dec. 27: Michigan
Heart of Dallas Bowl, Jan. 1: Not filled
Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, Dec. 26: Not filled