Too soon? Nah... I've been thinking about this since the Big 12 Championship Game ended the chance to project the 2010 Bowl Season. So what do we see coming at us in 2011? I don't see a repeat, that's for sure. I think that Oregon is in a better position than Auburn to return to a BCS Bowl, and that has as much to do with the conferences that they play in as the talent that they'll lose.
As for our conference, it's been a while since we've had a season with this much uncertainty. Aside from the fact that the divisional alignments will add a new wrinkle, we have three defending champions, each with their own struggles coming into the new year. Ohio State will face the specter of substantial suspensions (for any of the Tattoo Five return), Wisconsin is losing its strength and experience in the trenches, and Michigan State has to shake off one of the worst bowl performances in Big Ten history (That's actually not hyperbole. Look it up). Nebraska joins, Michigan starts over (again), and Penn State, Northwestern and Iowa lurk. If you think you know who'll represent the Big Ten in Pasadena, you're just guessing as much as I am. And who will it be? First, let's remember that there are rules:
- 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.
- The order of BCS selection is 1) Replacement for #1 Team; 2) Replacement for #2 Team; 3) Fiesta Bowl; 4) Sugar Bowl; 5) Orange Bowl.
- If a Big Ten or Pac-10 team qualifies for the BCS Championship Game, the Rose Bowl will NOT be required to take a non-automatic qualifier. This was only required of the Rose Bowl the first time it occurred over the current four-year contract.
- The Insight Bowl picks its Big Ten team ahead of the Gator Bowl this year. It will rotate the other way next year.
Got it? Good. Let's get on to the projections.
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