I do not expect the B1G to impress this bowl season. Too little offense, conference-wide, and too many mediocre teams in that squishy middle.
However, let us pray deeply for at least five wins, which is doable. A little toughness here, a little realized potential there, a couple struggling opponents...And we pull a nationally respectable 6-4 record out there, helping the B1G in 2012 BCS polls and recruiting.
Check out these matchups though:
Games The B1G SHOULD Win:
Purdue over WMU
OSU over Florida
Michigan over VT
Purdue plays tougher than anyone's expected, even though Vegas gives them no credit. The lack of Boilermaker weapons gives people pause, but...Beat the MAC. OSU has a suddenly functioning offense with a hit or miss defense, which favors them over the barely awake Florida offense. Michigan is explosive and reaping the fruits of a veteran class and a (probably) favorable matchup.
Games The B1G SHOULD Lose:
Oklahoma over Iowa
TAMU over Northwestern
Oregon over Wisconsin
Oklahoma is on a different level talent-wise, as is TAMU. Iowa is nasty in bowl competition, tis true, but this isn't the solid-like-rock Hawkeye team we're used to. Oregon is one of the country's most impressive teams when they get rolling. You have two comparisons to help make a prediction here: The 2010 Rose Bowl, where OSU dominated Oregon physically, and the 2011 BCS National Title game v. Auburn. Ohio State and Auburn were much more solid defensively than this Wisconsin team, which is why I think Oregon wins.
Illinois v. UCLA
Houston v. PSU
Nebraska v. South Carolina
MSU v. Georgia
Illinois is falling viciously, lacking an identity. UCLA is muddling about so, who knows?
Although we worry that PSU can't score enough points, Houston's schedule cannot simulate the murderous Nittany Lion defense. So that'll be interesting.
All depends on which Nebraska shows up: The team that ran over MSU or the one that looked flimsy and confused against Michigan.
Michigan State has been losing bowl games at a clip Northwestern would be proud of. Every year there is a different excuse, whether it's having to play a high-level SEC team or losing playmakers to suspension. Really no excuse this year, because the Spartans are as talented as ever and playing cohesively on both sides of the ball.
So that's where we're at. Let me know your thoughts, I could see anything from 3-7 to 7-3. I vividly remember January 2010, when the B1G won games with defensive toughness and superior gameplanning. A repeat of that is far from guaranteed though.