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B1G 2012 // Bowl Projections - Summertime

LOS ANGELES, CA - WHY HELLO KIFFIN.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - WHY HELLO KIFFIN. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Getty Images

As Bama Hawkeye's successor there are certain responsibilities I have inherited here at Off Tackle Empire. Primarily: Big Ten Bowl Projections. Sure, preseason projections are a crapshoot and often look absolutely ridiculous by the time bowl season rolls around but they're fun to complain and castrate the author and talk about. Right?

Majority of the 2012 offseason talk has been dedicated to conference realignment and a potential playoff system. Thankfully, I don't have to worry about those things because: A) Phil Steele breaks down where everyone is going on his website; and B) The BCS isn't going anywhere (for now).

On the national stage you can expect to see the usual suspects contending for the BCS National Championship: Louisiana State, Southern California, Alabama, Oklahoma and Oregon. However, there are a number of other Top-15 teams like Michigan, Georgia, West Virginia, Michigan State, Arkansas, South Carolina, Florida State and Wisconsin who could run the table and find themselves playing for the crystal trophy come January 7th.

Here in Big Ten land, the upper crust consists of Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin and (arguably) Nebraska. The Wolverines are my preseason favorites as they return Denard Robinson, Fitzgerald Toussaint, Roy Roundtree and a gang of defensive starters. After that it gets muddled. Michigan State needs a new quarterback but boasts hands down the best defense in the conference. Wisconsin returns Montee Ball and has former Maryland quarterback Danny O'Brien arriving but will he pick up the offense? Finally, the Cornhuskers return 8 starters on each side of the ball but can Taylor Martinez take his passing game to the next level? Time will tell.

There's also that team in Columbus. Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes return one of the best defenses in the nation but have to find a way to get the offense going. Braxton Miller is back but uh...he only completed more than 10 passes in a game twice last year. If Ohio State is going to have a great season they're going to need to move the ball better than they did in 2011.

Had enough of me over-generalizing your favorite team? Good. We'll get to the rules and projections after the jump.

The rules, as Bama Hawkeye graciously provided earlier in the year are as follows:

  • 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 (and we're bringing the title game back to South Beach this season) 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 Ohio State.
  • 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 Gator Bowl is supposed to be selecting ahead of the Insight Bowl in 2012. However, I have seen reports indicating that the Insight agreed to pass on Ohio State in 2011 in return for the earlier selection in 2012 and 2013. I'm picking as if that is the case.

I haven't heard otherwise on the Gator/Insight Bowl issue so I'll stick with Bama's assumption. Also, here's a breakdown of the Big Ten bowl tie-ins:


Bowl Game


No. 1 Rose Bowl
Pasadena, California
Pac-12 No. 1 or BCS
No. 2 Capital One Bowl
Orlando, Florida
SEC No. 2
No. 3 Outback Bowl
Tampa, Florida
SEC No. 3
No. 4 Insight Bowl
Tempe, Arizona
Big 12 No. 4
No. 5 Gator Bowl
Jacksonville, Florida
SEC No. 6
No. 6 Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas
Houston, Texas
Big 12 No. 6
No. 7 TicketCity Bowl
Dallas, Texas
No. 8 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl
Detroit, Michigan

Now that we've gotten the formalities out of the way, let's get to the projections. Note that I've expanded on the predictions so that I can better "justify" my picks.


Lsu_medium vs. Southern_california_medium

Why LSU: Once again, the SEC Champion returns to the BCS Title game. Like Alabama, the Tigers face the daunting task of replacing multiple starters on offense and defense. Like Alabama, they have a boatload of talent to fill those holes. The difference is that LSU returns a star RB in Spencer Ware and get the Crimson Tide at home. I see them beating Alabama and whoever comes out of the East in the SEC Championship game.

Why USC: The Trojans return 9 offensive starters including stud QB Matt Barkley and WR Robert Woods. Following the Trojans "we're really upset that we're being sanctioned" year, I see them rolling through the PAC-12 like Sherman rolled through South Carolina. The only true obstacle that USC faces is Oregon (Sorry, Domers) and they get the Ducks at home.


Michigan_old4_medium vs. Oregon_medium

Why Michigan: The Wolverines lose to Alabama to start off the year, cruise through the conference schedule and finally beat Michigan State (and Iowa) at home. They'll drop a road game at Nebraska or even Ohio State though it won't keep the Wolverines out of the B1G Championship game where they'll defeat Wisconsin.

Why Oregon: The Ducks cruise through the start of their schedule before losing to USC in Los Angeles. Then they'll lose to USC in Los Angeles...again. Fortunately, as the Trojans are going to the BCS Championship Game, they'll still play in the Rose Bowl.


Oklahoma_medium vs. Wisconsin_medium

Why Oklahoma: The Sooners will tear through their early schedule and elevate themselves to #1 before inevitably pooping the bed against one of the remaining 3 teams on their schedule (West Virginia, Oklahoma State and TCU). Despite this, they'll still win the Big 12 and head to Glendale.

Why Wisconsin: The good news for the Badgers is that their only true tests come against Nebraska and Michigan State, two teams who aren't even in their division. Thus, they could drop a game and still cruise into the B1G Championship game due to Ohio State being ineligible and Penn State going through ch-ch-ch-changes. Montee will ball so hard.


Georgia_medium vs. Texas_medium

Why Georgia: Have you looked at their schedule? The Bulldogs could roll into the SEC Championship game undefeated before losing to the LSU Tigers. Because the Crimson Tide will lose to LSU and another random team (Arkansas), the Sugar Bowl will take the "second best" team in the SEC: Georgia.

Why Texas: Mack Brown needs to win. Plain and simple. The Longhorns return 9 starters and get West Virginia and TCU at home. There's no reason they can't go 11-1 with their only loss coming to Big 12 Champion Oklahoma.


Florida_st_medium vs. Louisville_medium

Why Florida State: The Seminoles will win the ACC because: 1) They have EJ Manuel; 2) Clemson is Clemson; 3) Fuck Clemson; and 4) Beamerball can't win you a conference title. The Seminoles are hands down the most talented team in the ACC but...they're still an ACC team. That fact alone will prevent them from playing in the BCS Championship.

Why Louisville: Because someone has to win the Big East and I believe in Charlie Strong. The Cardinals play their toughest games at home before heading to Rutgers for their season finale. That game could very well decide the Big East Champion and I'm putting my money on the Cardinals. Also, this will be the worst Orange Bowl ever.


Michigan_st_medium vs. Alabama_medium

Why Michigan State: Sparty can't catch a break with their only losses coming from Michigan (finally) and Wisconsin. With the Wolverines going to the Rose Bowl and Wisconsin being the conference runner-up, Michigan State will settle for the Capital One Bowl.

Why Alabama: Like Michigan State, the Tide will get the shaft with by losing to the eventual conference champion and a second random team (Arkansas). We'll have a rematch of 2011 Capital One Bowl.


Nebraska_medium vs. Arkansas_medium

Why Nebraska: The Huskers will have another solid year with their only losses coming against teams who precede them in the bowl pecking order. I also have a feeling that Nebraska will drop an inexplicable game at home to someone who they have no business losing to (Penn State).

Why Arkansas: In case you didn't hear, there's been a few "off the field incidents" going on in Fayetteville. Motorcycle accidents + difficult road games + a home stand against LSU = Outback Bowl.


Illinois_medium vs. Texas_christian_old18_medium

Why Illinois: Ron Zook is gone and the Illini return damn near everyone who wasn't picked in the NFL Draft. Plus, their schedule sets up for an 8 win season with their toughest games coming at Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio State and Northwestern. Illinois could lose to every one of those teams and still have a great year. But they could also be struck by the curse of Zook and lose their final 6. In the words of Kevin Garnett: ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.

Why TCU: Welcome to the big boys league, Horned Frogs. TCU will do fine during their first year in the Big 12 though it won't be "beating up on the little sisters of the poor" fine. With Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas State and West Virginia all having good years, I expect the Horned Frogs to fall to the Insight Bowl.


Iowa_medium vs. Florida_medium

Why Iowa: The Hawkeyes could very well finish with an identical 8-4 record as Illinois thanks to a soft opening schedule. Aside from taking on NIU at Soldier Field, Iowa doesn't have a true road test until week 6 when they travel to Michigan State. They also travel to Northwestern, Michigan and get Nebraska to close out the year. If Iowa does finish at an expected 8-4, I think the Insight Bowl would take Illinois simply because they're tired of black and gold.

Why Florida: It's not that Florida isn't good, It's just that everyone else in the SEC is better. They get LSU, South Carolina and Missouri (LOL) at home and travel to Texas A&M (LOLOL), Vanderbilt (Yes, Vanderbilt) and Florida State. They could lose anywhere from 2-5 of those games.


Penn_st_medium vs. Texas_tech_medium

Why Penn State: Far too many question marks going on with Penn State for me to believe that they'll win more than 7 games. Their schedule sets up for a great season and yet I have no idea how the Nittany Lions will play under new coach B.O.B. Plus...Matt McGloin and Rob Bolden. Yeesh.

Why Texas Tech: Tommy Tuberville is why.


Northwestern_medium vs. Southern_methodist_medium

Why Northwestern: Usually, when a team loses a great quarterback they're bound to take a step back. Not Northwestern. They're about as plug and play as it gets. The Wildcats should be happy that 4 out of their first 5 contests come at home because Vanderbilt and and BC won't be pushovers. I see Fitzy jumping out to a 4-1 or 5-0 start before struggling in conference play and scratching and clawing for a 6th win. Chances are the Wildcats will drop to 5-3 before (SURPRISE) beating Iowa and finishing the season 6-6. Mark your calendar. You heard it here first.

Why SMU: I expect another successful year from June Jones and the Mustangs. Plus, the TicketCity Bowl is close to home.


Minnesota_medium vs. Northern_illinois_medium_medium_medium

Why Minnesota: MarQueis Gray, 7 returning defensive starters, Jerry Kill and a decent schedule are the reasons why I believe the Gophers can win 6 games. They should start off 4-0 (including a close call against Western Michigan) before traveling to Iowa City and finally giving back Floyd to the Hawkeyes (If the game was in TCF Bank I'd say they'd keep him). Realizing the back end of the schedule isn't forgiving, the Gophers kick it into overdrive and beat Northwestern and Purdue giving them 6 wins. That's as good as it gets.

Why NIU: Because I ran out of MAC helmet clip art.


Purdue_medium Indiana_medium Ohio_st_medium

Why Purdue: Sorry Purdue, but someone has to get the short end of the stick. The worst part is that I think the Boilermakers will actually be better than last year but their schedule is nothing short of brutal. @Notre Dame, vs. Michigan, vs. Wisconsin, @Ohio State, vs. Penn State, @Iowa, @Illinois. Sorry Pete, if it's any consolation at least you'll get to keep the bucket.

Why Indiana: Indiana has to win 2 games in a season before we can start talking about them winning 6.

Why Ohio State: REDACTED

Disagree? I know you do. Hit the comments.