Opening BCS and Big Ten Bowl Projections for the 2010 Season

Wait, isn't it too soon?  Not on the internet, baby!

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Guess who's back?  Back again.

Sure, some teams haven't even finalized their schedule.  Yes, there are a number of early-NFL-entry decisions to be made.  No doubt I'll have changed my mind before the start of the 2010 season, but here is our starting point.

Before we start, I want to place an emphasis on the RULES FOR 2010.

  1. The best teams don't always go to the best games.  In the end, butts in the seat and eyes to the television are the biggest factors.  (This isn't new)
  2. The order of BCS selection is 1) Replacement for #1 Team; 2) Replacement for #2 Team; 3) Sugar Bowl; 4) Orange Bowl; 5) Fiesta Bowl. (This is new)
  3. If a Big Ten or Pac-10 team qualifies for the BCS Championship Game, the Rose Bowl will be required to take a non-automatic qualifier.  This will only be required of the Rose Bowl the first time it occurs over the next four years. (This is new and huge)
  4. The Gator Bowl picks its Big Ten team ahead of the Insight Bowl this year.  It will rotate the other way next year. (This is new)
  5. For the full rules on BCS selections, look here
Let's emphasize number 3 a bit more.  If Ohio State (or Wisconsin...or Iowa...) runs the table and qualifies for the BCS Championship game, the Rose Bowl WILL NOT be able to pick the Big Ten runner-up to match against the Pac-10 champion (like it did with Illinois in 2007 and Michigan in 2006) IF (and only if) there is a non-BCS conference team in the Top 12 of the final BCS standings.  Had this rule been introduced in 2006, Boise State would have played USC in the Rose Bowl, not Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl.  Had the rule been introduced in 2007, Hawaii would have played USC in the Rose Bowl, not Georgia in the Sugar Bowl.  This will happen ONLY THE FIRST TIME that both a) the Rose Bowl loses a Pac-10 or Big 10 team and 2) a non-BCS team finishes in the Top 12 of the BCS standings.

Got it?  Good.  Let's get on to the projections.
Bcs_championship_logo_medium Ohio_st_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium Nebraska_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium

I think that Nebraska makes the return to national prominence next year.  They should be undefeated when Texas rolls into Lincoln in early October.  I also think that they'll be undefeated when they face off with Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship game. They'll win it this time.

As for Ohio State, they will get a nice non-conference win over Miami, and big road wins in Madison and Iowa City. The SEC will whine, but these two undefeated champs will earn their way to Glendale.

Rosebowl_small_medium_medium_medium_medium Oregon_old10_medium_medium_medium_medium Boise_st_medium_medium_medium_medium

From the bluest turf on earth to the greenest. The Rose Bowl gets hit with the non-AQ clause in year one of the four year agreement.  My guess is that even with a loss to Va. Tech, 11-1 Boise State still finishes as the highest non-AQ (and in the Top 12).  That means that the Rose Bowl will have to take them.

Oregon is going to be very good again - good enough to get past USC for the second straight year.  Do they run the table?  I'll say no.  11-1 sounds right, though.

Fiestabowl_2006_medium_medium_medium_medium Oklahoma_medium_medium_medium_medium Connecticut_medium_medium

It wouldn't surprise me for Oklahoma to be undefeated heading into the Big 12 championship game.  Even if not, if they finish 11-2, they'll be the easy pick to replace the Huskers.

UConn?  Really?  They were thisclose last season, losing five games by 15 total points.  With West Virginia, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh all debuting new QBs (and having to travel to Connecticut), I think that this is a Huskie year.  The Fiesta has last choice, and gets stuck with the Big East champ.

Sugarbowl_2006_sm_medium_medium_medium_medium Alabama_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium Southern_california_medium_medium_medium_medium

One-loss Alabama will argue that it's a better team than Nebraska and Ohio State.  SEC speed, you know.  The argument doesn't hold in 2010, as the defending champ's defense (and the conference as a whole) lose too many players to go undefeated and make it to the title game.

The SEC versus at-large selection, 10-2 USC? That's something that everyone gets excited about.

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Florida State's defense will need to improve.  I suspect that it will.  The offense will be powerful again. Could this be the year that the ACC finally gets the Florida State/Miami title game it's been planning on for 7 years?  The Canes have the tougher road. Miami's division (with Miami, North Carolina, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech) is the deeper next year.

Georgia emerges from the post-Tebow vacuum as the SEC East champ.  They lose to Alabama for the SEC Title, but at 11-2, they get the last at large bid, over 10-2 Iowa and 10-2 Wisconsin.

Capitalonebowl2002_small_medium_medium_medium_medium Iowa_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium Auburn_medium_medium_medium_medium

Iowa loses to Ohio State, and they drop another one along the way (maybe at Arizona or Michigan?).  It's hard to be too disappointed with 10-2 and the Capital One Bowl, but it does feel like a bit of a let down from the Top 10 preseason ranking.

Auburn (not hip pick Arkansas) finishes second in the SEC West at 10-2.  The Capital One Bowl selects them over the mess of teams in the SEC East.

Outbackbowl_2008_sm_medium_medium_medium_medium Wisconsin_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium Florida_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium

Wisconsin finishes 10-2, with losses to Ohio State and Iowa.  Much like in Iowa City, the year feels slightly disappointing after expectations were ratcheted up so high.

Florida isn't going to fall off the map, despite the exodus and confusion there.  My guess is that the Gators drop three games.  Four tops.  

Gatorbowl_2008_sm_medium_medium_medium_medium Michigan_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium Arkansas_medium_medium_medium_medium

Last year, I predicted 8-4 for Michigan and I was off by three games.  I'm doing it again. 

This is the 7th team out of the SEC (two in the BCS, Cap One, Outback, Cotton, Chik-Fil-A), so expect a 7-5 team.  We'll say Arkansas in the Ryan Mallett Bowl.

Insightbowl2002_small_medium_medium_medium_medium Penn_state_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium Missouri1_medium_medium_medium_medium

Last year I predicted 8-4 for Penn State, and I was off by two games.  I'm doing it again, with losses at Alabama, at Iowa, at Ohio State, and versus Michigan.  It's not as shocking this year, is it?

The Insight now gets the third post-BCS choice of the Big 12 (Cotton, Alamo, Insight).  My guess is that the league is sweet to Mizzou until this whole Big Ten expansion talk goes away.

Texasbowl_non_medium_medium_medium_medium Purdue_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium Baylor_medium

The Belt Buckle Bowl is a new addition designed to keep a Big Ten presence in Texas during the bowl season.  It's also the first bowl for the Hope-stache and an improving 7-5 Purdue squad.

If Robert Griffin stays healthy, Baylor finally gets to a bowl game.  I like the chances of it being this one in Houston.

DALLAS FOOTBALL CLASSIC

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No logo yet for this new January 1st bowl.   It replaces the old Motor City Bowl slot, and will pit the Big Ten against either the Big 12 or a West Division team from Conference USA. 2010 sees a C-USA team. Michigan State also finishes up at 7-5 and gets the last Big Ten bid.

Unless June Jones has SMU in the Liberty Bowl (as the C-USA Champion) expect the hometown Mustangs to christen this game.

Congressionalbowl_2008a_sm_medium_medium_medium_medium Northwestern_medium East_carolina_medium_medium_medium_medium It says here that the 'Cats go 7-5, and get this bid when the ACC can't fill all of its slots.  East Carolina is actually a good matchup for a fill in game.
Images_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium Indiana_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium

Illinois_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium_medium

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Sadly, all 11 Big Ten squads won't make it to bowl games.  Those that don't will be "On the Couch with the Queso Bowl (sponsored by Ro*Tel)."  Indiana seems destined for a 4 or 5 win season.  I just can't find the 6th win for them.  

Illinois is looking at 2-4 at the halfway point (losing to Mizzou, Ohio State, at Penn State, and at Michigan State).  That means they'd need to win their home games against Purdue, Indiana, and Minnesota and sneak one road win against Fresno State, Michigan, or Northwestern.  Possible? Sure.  But would you bet on Ron Zook?

Minnesota will be the worst team in the Big Ten.  I see 1 Big Ten win for them - and that may be optimistic.

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