This was supposed to be a breather week in the Big Ten. There weren't any great matchups. We were supposed to be waiting for the stretch run that starts next weekend with Penn State-Nebraska. But here's the thing about having teams that are good, but not great: they can lose games that they shouldn't. Nebraska did that. Michigan did that. Ohio State and Michigan State came really close to doing that. As it stands, the winner of Michigan State-Iowa will now control its destiny in the Legends Division. Nebraska and Michigan each need to win out and hope for a Sparty loss along the way (and Michigan will now need an Iowa loss too). The Leaders Division didn't see any real shake up, but will the mess in the Penn State athletic department have any impact on the preparation for these next three games?
Currently, I see three B1G teams that could get an at large BCS bid.
- 10-2 Wisconsin. The Badgers win out, but Penn State clinches the division after beating Nebraska and Ohio State.
- 10-2 Nebraska-Michigan winner. The winner of this game wins out, but Sparty wins the division.
- 11-2 Penn State. The Lions sweep the regular season, but fall in the B1G Championship Game.
Everybody else will need to win the league to get to a big time bowl, because a three-loss team isn't going to cut it this season. 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.