The Bucket is a play-in game to a bowl game. The Battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe will determine whether Minnesota makes a bowl at all, and whether wisconsin heads to an overpriced city to play in an early bowl game against marginal competition in 40-degree weather on the Left Coast or Right Coast. The Game determines a Big Ten Championship Game berth and, possibly, a spot in the College Football Playoff.
Week 13 is an awesome time to be a casual observer of Big Ten football.*
*Yes, I said “casual observer,” not “fan of the conference” (because that’s really stupid), and “Big Ten football,” not “Illinois football.” I’m aware that they’re ass; we don’t need to relitigate this.
This weekend piece by the Mothership, though (the delightfully clickbaity “UCF should jump Ohio State”), set me to thinking: What’s the dream scenario for the UCF Knights? Can the Big Ten help make this happen?
As it stands, before the newest College Football Playoff rankings are released tomorrow, here’s where we stand (* denotes teams playing in their conference CCG):
 Alabama Crimson Tide* (11-0, 7-0 SEC), def. The Mighty Citadel, 50-17; vs. Auburn
 Clemson Tigers* (11-0, 7-0 ACC) — def. Duke, 35-6; vs. South Carolina
 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (11-0, 5-0 ACC) — def.  Syracuse, 36-3; at USC
 Michigan Wolverines (10-1, 8-0 B1G) — def. Indiana, 31-20; at OSU
 Georgia Bulldogs* (11-0, 8-0 SEC) — def. Massachusetts, 66-27; vs. Georgia Tech
 Oklahoma Sooners (10-1, 7-1 Big XII) — def. Kansas, 55-40; at West Virginia (Fri)
 LSU Tigers (9-2, 5-2 SEC) — def. Rice, 42-10; at Texas A&M
 Washington St. Cougars (10-1, 7-1 Pac-12) — def. Arizona, 69-28; vs.  Washington (Fri)
 West Virginia (9-2, 6-2 Pac-12) — L, Oklahoma State, 45-41; vs.  Oklahoma (Fri)
 Ohio State Buckeyes (10-1, 7-1 B1G) — def. Maryland, 52-51 (OT); vs.  Michigan
 UCF Knights (10-0, 7-0 AAC) — def.  Cincinnati Bearcats, 38-13; at USF Bulls (Fri)
The Scenario/UCF Rooting Interests:
- Yes, this is besides “everyone loses,” you chumbalone. Obviously Georgia could lose to GT; we’re throwing that out short-term.
- Alabama runs the table. Let #1 be #1; an Alabama loss puts them at #4, and you ain’t leap-frogging that.
- Clemson runs the table OR loses out. I ain’t putting it past Sakerlina, and I’m sure not touching any game with the Pitt Panthers against a #2-ranked team.
- Notre Dame loses to USC. We’re all rooting for that.
- Northwestern wins the Big Ten Championship. It doesn’t matter if it’s Ohio State or Michigan—one of them loses to a 4-loss West Division champ, they ain’t it.
- MAX BIG XII CHAOS: Really this is just Oklahoma taking a second loss. But wouldn’t it be fun if that path involved a loss to West-by-God Virginia on Friday?
- Wazzu losing either the Apple Cup or the Pac-12 Championship Game to the Utah Utes.
- And, obviously, run the table.
So yes, while that does involve two very improbable things (Northwestern over Mich/OSU, USC over Notre Dame), it’s also got a few pieces totally in the realm of possibility (Texas OR WVU over Oklahoma, Wazzu losing to Utah or UW). I’m 100% in your camp. Let’s do this.
Say it with me,
Citronaut Knights fans: Go ‘Cats.
Would UCF in the Playoff be good for college football?
This poll is closed
I’d rather see Wazzu make it.
...oh right, this is the bowl projections piece.
A few notes:
- Big Ten bowls tend not to go for repeat games, attempting to fill each slot with at least 5 different teams over 6 years.
- If an ACC team is ranked higher than a B1G team, I think, they take the Citrus Bowl slot. Or something.
- The Music City and TaxSlayer Gator bowls take one Big Ten team and one ACC team among them to face an SEC team. Since a B1G team went to the Music City Bowl last year, look for that to flip this year.
- An asterisk denotes a team filling a slot outside its conference bowl affiliation. Two asterisks denotes a 5-7 team qualifying on APR.
- And again, a word on the formatting: I dunno. Sorry.
Things to Watch in Week 13
- Basically, just tune in to the Big XII. Four teams are at 5-6: the TCU, Kansas State, Texas Tech, and Baylor. Of those, TTU and Baylor have a bowl play-in game, while K-State takes on Iowa State in FARMAGEDDON and TCU hosts to Oklahoma State. The Horned Frogs have scored over 20 points once in Big XII play (a 52-27 loss to Oklahoma). Give me the Red Raiders, Cowboys, and Cyclones.
- Similarly, the Vanderbilt-Tennessee game is for bowl eligibility. I honestly don’t give a shit who wins.
- There are bowl implications in the Territorial Cup: At 5-6, the Arizona Wildcats need to upset their in-state foes Arizona State—and they get them at home. I think Sparky is just better this year, but crazier things have happened, and if the Wildcats win, that’s likely a 6-6 G5 team getting left at home.
- Why does that matter? Because the Louisiana Ragin Cajuns are already bowl-eligible, while the Miami Redhawks should complete another comeback to finish 6-6 (6-2 MAC!) with a win over Balls Tate. Oh, and Wyoming should beat New Mexico to finish 6-6, too. And there already aren’t enough bowl spots. Bring on the Myrtle Beach Bowl!
As always: Disagree? Noted a number of repeats (I’m sure there’s at least one; just look harder)? Formatting not working for you? Let me know in the comments so I can laugh at you and maybe try to fix things next week.
Which Big Ten teams slide into bowl eligibility?
This poll is closed
Purdue and Minnesota
Indiana and Minnesota
I guess technically it could be Purdue, Minnesota, and Maryland
I guess technically it could be Indiana, Minnesota, and Maryland
Fine, technically it could be just Purdue and Maryland
If Indiana and Maryland are the two Big Ten teams of these to make a bowl, I will make a naked snow angel in my backyard.