Sunday, September 15, 2013
Big Ten bowl projections: Week 3
By Brian Bennett and Adam Rittenberg
We're officially a quarter of the way through the Big Ten regular season, and the action Saturday taught us more about the league's teams than any other day had. Time to make some educated guesses -- and they are guesses -- on the conference's bowl lineup.
No changes at the top, as Ohio State strengthened its claim as the Big Ten's top team with a convincing win at Cal. We had been projecting Michigan as a BCS at-large team, but the Wolverines sure didn't look like one in escaping at home against Akron. However, we're willing to bet that was a Notre Dame hangover and that Michigan will continue to improve. Plus, BCS at-large bids are less about who deserves it and more about which teams have the most desirable brand names, and Michigan will be in high demand if it can go at least 10-2.
We like how Wisconsin performed at Arizona State, and Northwestern continues to impress. The first real change comes in our Gator Bowl slot; we've moved Michigan State up there and dropped Nebraska. Although the Huskers' schedule should still lead to a lot of wins, Nebraska fans might be tired of going to Florida. A Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl appearance would be viewed as disappointing, but after the way the team played in the second half against UCLA, the Huskers can't be too choosy. Michigan State also has a more favorable schedule than Nebraska.
We've also got both Illinois and Iowa in this week. Both teams should -- emphasis on should -- be 3-1 after Week 4, putting them in good position to reach bowl eligibility. Whether either can get three wins in conference play is questionable, but the Fighting Illini have been very competitive, and the Hawkeyes at least have an identity with their run game.
So behold our latest bowl projections, sure to change a million times between now and December:
Rose Bowl presented by VIZIO, Jan. 1: Ohio State
BCS at-large: Michigan
Capital One, Jan. 1: Wisconsin
Outback, Jan. 1: Northwestern
TaxSlayer.com Gator, Jan. 1: Michigan State
Buffalo Wild Wings, Dec. 28: Nebraska
Texas, Dec. 27: Minnesota
Heart of Dallas, Jan. 1: Illinois
Little Caesars Pizza, Dec. 26: Iowa