We'll get to the projections here in a second, but first I'd like to say a few words about Michigan. Yes, Michigan.
Michigan is a flawed team. No one will confuse their defense with Alabama's. No one will compare their running backs to South Carolina's. No one, in a positive manner, has compared their quarterback's arm to Stanford's. And yet, they're 5-0. As I look at their remaining seven games, there isn't a team that they can't beat. Purdue should come easy. Iowa and Northwestern do not matchup well with Denard Robinson. Ohio State has a lot of work to even get to Michigan's level. Nebraska's defense may have just shown that it's a bit vulnerable when facing a quarterback who can run and pass. Michigan State and Illinois look like good, but not great, teams.
That's it. That's their slate. They don't have to face 2002 Ohio State. They won't line up against 1995 Nebraska. They won't even see 2011 Wisconsin (unless it's in a B1G Championship Game). Now, I don't think that they're going to run the table. Again, they're a flawed team. But even with their flaws, I don't think that it's out of the question that they go 5-2 down the stretch. And if they go into Thanksgiving weekend at 9-2, they'll be playing for a BCS Bowl berth (if they're not playing for a B1G Championship Game berth). Because if the Maize and Blue CAN be selected for a big bowl, they WILL be selected for a big bowl.
As for the projections, 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.
- Until a team is officially bowl banned, we assume that they can and will go. So, no USC. Ohio State, Oregon, North Carolina, <ahem> Miami...you're in consideration until otherwise notified.
- 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 (2010 season) 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.
And now on to the rest...with some quick notes.