Michigan Wolverines: bowl index 2013

Big Ten bowl projections

December, 8, 2013
12/08/13
12:00
PM ET
It's all over except for the official bowl selections.

Those will come out Sunday night. But before we know for sure where Big Ten teams are going bowling, we've got one last set of projections.

Michigan State's Big Ten championship game win over Ohio State obviously sends the Spartans to the Rose Bowl. And it all but guarantees two BCS bids for the Big Ten, as someone will snatch up the Buckeyes. We think that the Discover Orange Bowl makes the most sense.

The next two bowls are pretty easy to figure out. Wisconsin will go to the Capital One Bowl, where they should face a strong SEC opponent. Iowa, coming off a nice finish to the year, will enjoy the no-rules, just-right feeling at the Outback Bowl.

The biggest debate involves the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl selection. From what we're hearing, that game favors Michigan over Nebraska. That could change, but we're going with it for now. That leaves Nebraska to the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl. How many Huskers fans would travel to Jacksonville if that's the case?

Minnesota has an argument for a better bowl than Michigan or Nebraska, but the Gophers still lack the brand name or traveling reputation. So it's back to Texas for a second straight year for Jerry Kill's guys.

We'll find out later Sunday night if we were right.

Rose Bowl Game Presented by VIZIO, Jan. 1: Michigan State
Discover Orange Bowl, Jan. 3: Ohio State
Capital One Bowl, Jan. 1: Wisconsin
Outback Bowl, Jan. 1: Iowa
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, Dec. 28: Michigan
TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl, Jan. 1: Nebraska
Texas Bowl, Dec. 27: Minnesota
Heart of Dallas Bowl, Jan. 1: Not filled
Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, Dec. 26: Not filled
A week from today, the actual bowl lineup will be determined and revealed.

But for now, we offer our latest attempt at projecting how the postseason will shape up for the Big Ten. And things are definitely looking up for the league.

For the first time, we are projecting Ohio State into the BCS national title game after Alabama's loss to Auburn in the game of the century (any century, really). And that means we've got Michigan State in the Rose Bowl. Now, this doesn't mean we're officially predicting that the Buckeyes will beat the Spartans in Indianapolis on Saturday for the Big Ten title. We need a few more days to come up with our actual game picks, and Michigan State has a real shot. But for projection purposes, we'll go with the higher-rated team for now.

Wisconsin's stunning loss to Penn State moves the Badgers out of BCS contention and into the league's top non-BCS game, the Capital One Bowl. We think Iowa, with its late-season wins over Nebraska and Michigan, will be heading to the Outback Bowl. Then things really get interesting.

Will the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl go with Nebraska, despite the Cornhuskers' meltdown in the season finale? Or will that game roll the dice with Michigan? And will the Gator Bowl take whichever of those teams is left or go with Minnesota?

We think the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl would still like to reunite Nebraska with an old Big 12 foe. And when it comes down to it, the Gator won't be able to say no to the Michigan brand. So that leaves Minnesota back in Texas, a fate the Gophers could have avoided had they won at least one of their final two games.

Our final bowl projections of the regular season:

VIZIO BCS National Championship Game, Jan. 6: Ohio State
Rose Bowl Game Presented by VIZIO, Jan. 1: Michigan State
Capital One Bowl, Jan. 1: Wisconsin
Outback Bowl, Jan. 1: Iowa
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: not filled
Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, Dec. 26: not filled
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
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
There were some shake-ups in the Big Ten standings in Week 11, but our bowl projections remain the same.

The one that will probably jump out to you is Michigan in the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl and Minnesota -- despite its 8-2 record and shiny new USA Today coaches' poll ranking -- slotted behind in the Texas Bowl. But as we've said, perception and fan bases still have more to do with bowl selection than anything. Michigan, even if it finishes only, say, 7-5, would still be a very attractive team for a bowl like the Gator. Remember that bowl took a 6-6 Ohio State team in 2011.

Of course, if the Wolverines don't improve and they lose out to go 6-6, all bets are off. Hardly any of their fans would want to go see them in the postseason, and Michigan could end up at the bottom of the projections -- maybe even in Detroit. And Minnesota can really help its own cause by beating Wisconsin and/or Michigan State in its final two games.

We still don't have the Badgers in a BCS game, but the win over BYU helped their cause. Wisconsin has an excellent chance of finishing 10-2 with an asterisk next to one of those losses. A team riding a seven-game winning streak would make bowls very interested. Ohio State is an Alabama or Florida State loss from getting into the BCS title game. And if Northwestern (versus Michigan) or Indiana (at Wisconsin) happens to win this week, we will project another Big Ten bowl team next Sunday.

The latest projections:

Rose Bowl Presented by VIZIO, Jan. 1: Ohio State
Capital One Bowl, Jan. 1: Wisconsin
Outback Bowl, Jan. 1: Michigan State
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
As we get closer to the end of the season and our bowl projections become (hopefully) a bit clearer and more accurate, it's important to remember something: Postseason order doesn't always reflect the most deserving teams.

Fan support, attractive matchups and momentum all have a lot to do with it. That's why even though Michigan State is riding high right now at 8-1 and 5-0 in the Big Ten, we don't have the Spartans in the league's No. 2 slot. Right now, we're projecting them to lose to Ohio State in the Big Ten title game, while Wisconsin could benefit by winning out. The Badgers still have a chance of grabbing an at-large BCS bid but will need to keep moving up in the polls to make up for poor computer rankings.

And while Minnesota is a hotter team than even Nebraska or Michigan right now, the Gophers will have to battle a perception that their fan base does not travel well when it comes to bowl selection. That's why we think Minnesota will be behind the Cornhuskers and Wolverines in the pecking order, even though it could finish even or ahead of them in the division standings. Iowa likely will be a bigger draw than Minnesota once it gains one more win to become bowl-eligible, but Hawkeyes fans have not been filling Kinnick Stadium to capacity and don't seem overly enthused by this season's team.

We had been projecting Indiana to make a bowl, but the Hoosiers' loss to Minnesota pretty much ends that idea. With Illinois and Northwestern also struggling, we now think the Big Ten will be unable to fill all of its bowl slots in 2013.

The latest projections:

Rose Bowl Presented by VIZIO, Jan. 1: Ohio State
Capital One Bowl, Jan. 1: Wisconsin
Outback Bowl, Jan. 1: Michigan State
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
After the Week 9 results, our biggest tumblers in the Big Ten bowl projections are Nebraska and Northwestern.

The Cornhuskers' loss to Minnesota prompted us to move Big Red down two slots to the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl. Nebraska isn't really in danger of missing a bowl, and its large fan base will ensure a decent landing spot (in reality, probably one better than Jacksonville). But we weren't exactly encouraged for the Huskers' future while watching how easily they got pushed around by the Gophers.

The fall was even harder for Northwestern, whose fourth straight loss resulted in an absence from our bowl projections for the first time this season. We never really envisioned a scenario in which the Wildcats would miss a bowl this season. But they look lost and confused on offense and need to win two more games against a schedule that includes showdowns with Nebraska, Michigan and Michigan State just to get bowl eligible. Right now, we have no confidence they will get that done.

Our top two teams remain the same this week, and we've bumped up the 7-1 Michigan State Spartans a notch. The problem for Michigan State, of course, is that even if it wins the Legends Division, it could run into an Ohio State buzz saw in Indianapolis. And if the Spartans lose there, they could pay for it because bowls aren't usually high on teams coming off a loss. It's a Catch-22 of sorts.

As a reminder, the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl picks ahead of the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl in this season's Big Ten lineup.

We also leave Indiana in for yet another week, but Saturday's home game against Minnesota might just be a must-win for the Hoosiers if they want to make the postseason.

The projections:

Rose Bowl Presented by VIZIO, Jan. 1: Ohio State
Capital One Bowl, Jan. 1: Wisconsin
Outback Bowl, Jan. 1: Michigan State
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, Dec. 28: Michigan
TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl, Jan. 1: Nebraska
Texas Bowl, Dec. 27: Iowa
Heart of Dallas Bowl, Jan. 1: Minnesota
Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, Dec. 26: Indiana
Wisconsin is playing like a team worthy of a BCS bowl invite, but will the Badgers get one? It'll be long climb for a team that could finish 10-2.

An at-large spot could open up for the Big Ten if Ohio State reaches the BCS Championship, as the Rose Bowl certainly would want a traditional Big Ten-Pac-12 matchup for its 100th game. But right now, we don't see the Buckeyes reaching the big one on Jan. 6 in Pasadena, Calif., and have them slotted to play there five days earlier. As a result, we have the Big Ten with only one BCS entry and Wisconsin going to the Capital One Bowl for the first time since the 2006 season.

Nebraska moves up to the Outback Bowl in the projections, as the Huskers, despite not playing in Week 8, are the slightest of favorites to win the Legends Division. We also think the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl will take Michigan rather than choosing Michigan State for the second consecutive season.

The bigger changes come at the bottom as Minnesota, now 5-2 after Saturday's road upset of Northwestern, returns to the projections. Northwestern, meanwhile, is in danger of falling out, although we expect some wins from Pat Fitzgerald's crew once it gets healthy again.

The Minnesota-Indiana game Nov. 2 could end up being a bowl play-in contest. For now, we're keeping Indiana in the projections, while Illinois has a tough road to three more wins.

Without further ado ...

Rose Bowl presented by VIZIO, Jan. 1: Ohio State
Capital One Bowl, Jan. 1: Wisconsin
Outback Bowl, Jan. 1: Nebraska
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, Dec. 28: Michigan
TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl, Jan. 1: Michigan State
Texas Bowl, Dec. 27: Iowa
Heart of Dallas Bowl, Jan. 1: Minnesota
Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, Dec. 26: Northwestern
At-large bowl: Indiana
We feel relatively confident projecting Ohio State to spend early January in Pasadena, Calif., either for the Rose Bowl Game Presented by VIZIO or for the VIZIO BCS National Championship Game.

After that, these projections are definitely written in pencil (or invisible internet ink?). Wisconsin on Saturday strengthened its case to be the Big Ten's No. 2 team. The Badgers will need to win out and likely get some help to earn a BCS at-large berth, but it's not out of the question after a 3-2 start. Right now, we have Gary Andersen's crew in Orlando, Fla., for the Capital One Bowl.

Michigan State is the biggest mover in this week's projections, as the Spartans have put themselves in position for another 10-win season. We have the Spartans heading back to Tampa, Fla., for the Outback Bowl, where they defeated Georgia in an overtime classic following the 2011 season.

Our apologies for mistakes in previous projections, but the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl actually selects ahead of the Gator Bowl this year. Nebraska heads to the desert for that one, while Michigan, which has been shaky to date and could struggle down the stretch, goes to the Gator for the second time in four years.

Northwestern falls down the selection order after its dreadful performance against Wisconsin. Iowa and Indiana remain in the same spots, as we see both squads finishing 6-6. Minnesota likely will be an underdog in its remaining games, and Illinois still needs three more wins and has a brutal Big Ten home slate (Wisconsin, Michigan State, Ohio State, Northwestern).

Here's how we see things shaking out:

Rose Bowl presented by VIZIO, Jan. 1: Ohio State
Capital One Bowl, Jan. 1: Wisconsin
Outback Bowl, Jan. 1: Michigan State
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, Dec. 28: Nebraska
TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl, Jan. 1: Michigan
Texas Bowl, Dec. 27: Northwestern
Heart of Dallas Bowl, Jan. 1: Iowa
Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, Dec. 26: Indiana
If you want to see the changes in our bowl projections this week, work your way up from the bottom of the list.

Really, there wasn't a whole lot this week that changed our minds about the top of the projections. Ohio State retains the Rose Bowl spot, for obvious reasons. The biggest question on the Buckeyes right now is whether they can grab a BCS title game spot. Michigan, though certainly still shaky in some areas, is the only other unbeaten team in the Big Ten at this point and remains an attractive draw for bowl partners.

Nebraska won a game it had to have and has a very favorable schedule, while Wisconsin could be favored in the rest of its games, though this week's home contest against a good Northwestern club won't be easy. Michigan State definitely deserves to be ahead of Iowa after a convincing win in Iowa City, but we'll need to see some consistency from the Spartans' defense to believe they can climb the bowl ladder.

So the real change this week is that we now have Indiana in the postseason, going to Detroit. The reason? Indiana improved to 3-2 by beating Penn State and has winnable games left at home versus Illinois, Minnesota and Purdue. The Gophers need only two more wins for bowl eligibility but have inspired very little confidence the past two weeks, especially considering their schedule. The Illini are much improved, but their blowout win over Cincinnati doesn't look quite as good now that we know the Bearcats stink.

The Hoosiers, then, get the last spot, with Minnesota and Illinois on the outside looking in for now.

Rose Bowl presented by VIZIO, Jan. 1: Ohio State
Capital One Bowl, Jan. 1: Michigan
Outback Bowl, Jan. 1: Wisconsin
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, Dec. 28: Northwestern
TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl, Jan. 1: Nebraska
Texas Bowl, Dec. 27: Michigan State
Heart of Dallas Bowl, Jan. 1: Iowa
Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, Dec. 26: Indiana
Half of the league was off in Week 5, and Ohio State maintained its perch atop the league, so we didn't make too many changes in the projections.

Wisconsin is among the nation's best two-loss teams and could run the table the rest of the way, putting itself in position for a possible BCS at-large berth. But right now, it's still hard to put two Big Ten teams in BCS bowls, at least until we see more from Northwestern and Michigan.

Illinois and Iowa were two of the three eligible Big Ten teams to miss the postseason in 2012. Although the Illini and Hawkeyes have some work left to go bowling, we expect both to be somewhere warm in late December or early January. Tim Beckman's Illini (3-1) already have exceeded last year's wins total, while the Hawkeyes are 4-1 with a bunch of momentum heading into the meat of their Big Ten schedule.

Minnesota remains in the projections, but just barely. Although the Gophers need only two more wins to become eligible, they play a brutal schedule the rest of the way and didn't look ready for Big Ten action on Saturday against Iowa. It may take a signature win for Jerry Kill's crew to go bowling once again.

Rose Bowl presented by VIZIO, Jan. 1: Ohio State
Capital One Bowl, Jan. 1: Michigan
Outback Bowl, Jan. 1: Wisconsin
TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl, Jan. 1: Nebraska
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, Dec. 28: Northwestern
Texas Bowl, Dec. 27: Michigan State
Heart of Dallas Bowl, Jan. 1: Iowa
Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, Dec. 26: Illinois
At-large bowl: Minnesota
Nonconference play is just about finished in the Big Ten, save for a few more stray games. The last two-thirds of the season will really determine who ends where in the postseason.

But, as we do every week, we're attempting to project those bowl bids now.

We won't be surprised if the Big Ten receives a BCS at-large berth because, well, that's what happens most seasons. But it's hard to justify giving this league two BCS spots right now, as Michigan's struggles move the Wolverines out of the mix. Also, leagues such as the Pac-12 and ACC seem better positioned for two BCS berths, along with the SEC, which definitely will get two.

Although Wisconsin and Northwestern have been more consistent than Michigan so far, we don't expect the Capital One Bowl folks to pass up the Wolverines, who last played in Orlando in Lloyd Carr's final game as coach (Jan. 1, 2008). Wisconsin hasn't been to the Sunshine State since 2009 after a lengthy run of Florida bowl appearances. The Outback Bowl gladly will scoop up the Badgers.

Northwestern won't make a repeat appearance in Jacksonville, so we like Nebraska to go there, while the Wildcats head to the desert. Michigan State, Minnesota and Iowa round out the Big Ten bowl tie-ins, while we expect Illinois to grab an at-large spot. Indiana's 2-2 mark in nonconference play will make reaching the postseason a challenge.

Things will change during the next few weeks as there really isn't much separating teams such as Michigan, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Northwestern and Michigan State.

Without further ado, the projections ...

Rose Bowl presented by VIZIO, Jan. 1: Ohio State
Capital One Bowl, Jan. 1: Michigan
Outback Bowl, Jan. 1: Wisconsin
TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl, Jan. 1: Nebraska
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, Dec. 28: Northwestern
Texas Bowl, Dec. 27: Michigan State
Heart of Dallas Bowl, Jan. 1: Iowa
Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, Dec. 26: Minnesota
At-large bowl: Illinois
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
Projecting where Big Ten teams will go bowling after only two weeks of the season is a nearly impossible task.

How, for example, can we really say with any certainty that Ohio State is better than Michigan or Northwestern right now? Or that Wisconsin, which has played nobody so far, is either for real or a paper tiger? How will the lower tier sort itself out in the conference race in the battle for bowl bids?

We can only make some educated guesses. Ohio State retains the top spot until we see strong evidence to change our opinion of the Buckeyes, but we admit that Michigan and Northwestern look awfully good after two games. The bigger questions this week are whether to continue giving Indiana the nod for a small bowl, whether Illinois can actually sneak into the postseason and what to make of Michigan State and Iowa.

Our answers, for now, are: no on Indiana (defense not good enough, two more tough nonconference teams); yes on Illinois (sounds crazy, but Illini should be no worse than 3-1 going into league play and would be favored right now over Purdue and Indiana); Michigan State is still too good defensively to not win at least six games and Iowa still needs to show us more to be included.

Like we said, it has been only two weeks. These things can change dramatically. Today, however, our projections look like this:

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: Nebraska
Buffalo Wild Wings, Dec. 28: Minnesota
Texas, Dec. 27: Michigan State
Heart of Dallas, Jan. 1: Illinois
Week 1 is in the books around the Big Ten, and even though the calendar just turned to September, we'll be projecting bowls every Sunday at this time. The Big Ten's new bowl lineup, featuring all of those California games, doesn't go into effect until the 2014 season.

We'll likely project two Big Ten teams to BCS bowls for a while, and both Ohio State and Michigan looked the part Saturday. The Buckeyes didn't look like a national title contender against Buffalo, but we still have them winning the league. Northwestern gets the nod over both Nebraska and Michigan State after outlasting Cal on the road.

Penn State is ineligible for postseason play, and we don't see Illinois, Iowa or Purdue getting to the six-win plateau. Although Iowa did some good things in its opener against Northern Illinois, we need to see more from the Hawkeyes, who have a tough Big Ten schedule.

Here's the full 2013-14 bowl schedule.

It's obviously very early, but here's how we see things shaking out ...

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: Nebraska
Buffalo Wild Wings, Dec. 28: Michigan State
Texas, Dec. 27: Indiana
Heart of Dallas, Jan. 1: Minnesota

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