I looked back through my bowl projections over the past few years. Generally by this point, it was pretty clear as to a general pecking order in the Big Ten. Sure, and upset or two may have messed with the order a touch. But for the most part, the league had a semblance of top-to-bottom. If you can find it this year, please chime in. Because the circles that we see now, make projecting what will happen ahead even more uncertain.
Is it just home field? Wisconsin beats Nebraska. Michigan State beats Wisconsin. Nebraska beats Michigan State. Ohio State fits in there somewhere, too. Is it just home field? Are those four pretty even teams? I'm really not sure anymore.
And what about Penn State? We're always attracted to the sizzle of an offense, but could their defense be good enough to ride to Indianapolis? Very quietly, something special could be happening in the Happy Valley. That two game division lead is nice. Of course, they have three very tough games left.
Nobody believes in Michigan, but they still sit at 7-1, with their toughest remaining games at home. Could they slip through?
And take Illinois, Iowa, and Purdue. Please.
As for the actual 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.