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Big Ten Bowl Projections, Post-Week 13: The Unfairness of 6-6, and if OSU can do it again

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Will it take a 59-0 pounding of Northwestern for the Buckeyes to leapfrog the Sooners? We don’t actually have to find out, do we?

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 06:  Sam Arneson #49 of the Wisconsin Badgers loses the ball next to Darron Lee #43 of the Ohio State Buckeyes during the Big Ten Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 6, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Buckeyes won the game 59-0. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 06: Sam Arneson #49 of the Wisconsin Badgers loses the ball next to Darron Lee #43 of the Ohio State Buckeyes during the Big Ten Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 6, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Buckeyes won the game 59-0. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Let’s get it out of the way: I don’t know, you don’t know, and Jerry Palm doesn’t know.

You can self-assuredly nod and say “You see, the thing about Ohio State’s resume is ___,” but we all know that you’re full of shit. Same if you do it for Oklahoma, a team with an objectively better loss than Ohio State’s but...well, no objectively better win. Turns out when Army is the best non-conference win you have (though who could’ve seen the UCLA and FAU collapses coming), things aren’t actually that great.

As it stands in the AP Poll and last week’s College Football Playoff rankings, the Oklahoma Sooners and Ohio State Buckeyes should be sitting 5-6, with the Georgia Bulldogs in the 4th playoff spot with a rematch with Alabama on the line...until they lose to the Crimson Tide in the SEC Championship. And then someone will move up.

It’s tough to gauge who that will be. Oklahoma has a tougher test in the Big XII Championship Game, with the AP #9 Texas Longhorns riding a creaky four-game winning streak but already owning one win over the Sooners in 2018. Ohio State has a weird, tricky out at the Big Ten Championship in my Northwestern Wildcats, but beating the AP #21 ‘Cats won’t have the same cache as a win over Texas will.

In my mind, the Buckeyes have more to prove—and that, if Big Ten Championship history tells us anything, means a 59-0 style beatdown is in the Wildcats’ cards. And then the smug nodding and prognosticating will begin again.

In the meantime, none of us know jack shit.

Poll

On that cheery note, who makes the CFP?

This poll is closed

  • 45%
    Oklahoma
    (204 votes)
  • 30%
    Ohio State
    (135 votes)
  • 11%
    Georgia
    (49 votes)
  • 12%
    UCF
    (56 votes)
444 votes total Vote Now

For as much as some people (certainly not me) rag on bowl games for being a participation trophy for teams who get to a .500 record and sometimes even put 5-7 teams in postseason play, this season has maybe (maybe?) justified the proliferation of bowl games—and the 2020 addition of the Myrtle Beach Bowl for Sun Belt, C-USA, and MAC teams.

That’s a good thing, because there are four teams left out at 6-6 or 7-5 in this week’s bowl projections. While that could drop to 3 if Virginia Tech fails to beat Marshall and get its sixth win, we’re, uh, not optimistic. The missers-out:

It is, for me, legitimately a bummer that these teams don’t have bowl game options. The Mountain West got two extra teams to bowl eligibility this year, the Sun Belt one, and the MAC, like, 3 extra? On paper, I’d love to just match those teams up somewhere. I’d give Wyoming to Miami-Ohio and ULM to EMU, just to make things easy. Now, my ideas:

  • Meet in the Middle: Halfway between Ypsi and Monroe is something called Cave-in-Rock, IL. Now yes, I grant that this is inconvenient. But it’s about equal distances to St. Louis, Louisville, and Nashville—one of those cities would be happy to have you! St. Louis even has a dome and nothing approaching football! Call it the Gateway Bowl and get the defunct computer company to sponsor you. What could go wrong?
  • Meet in the Middle, Pt. II: Halfway between Laramie and Oxford, since you asked, is Hepburn, IA. That’s Steve King Country—I can’t in good conscience send you anywhere near there, even though Omaha and Lincoln are just over the border and would love to see a bowl-eligible football team. So we’ll look for more ideas.
  • FCS Championship Undercard: Look, you’re here to see North Dakota State pummel Weber State, and we get that. You can tailgate in the parking lot all you want. But you’ll be joined in Frisco by 15,000 fans from Wyoming and Miami-Ohio! Watch them play a 1pm game, 6 hours ahead of kickoff for NDSU-Weber!
  • Just show up in Arizona: “What do you mean? We have the invite right here! Arizona Bowl, 12/29, Wyoming vs. Miami! Look, you invited us, we came all the way out here—we might as well play the game, huh?” No one’s watching the Arizona Bowl. I put it at a 65% chance this works.
  • MAC vs. the World: Here’s a little flipsy-doodle kind of gig—you play four quarters of football: (Q1) ULM vs. EMU, (Q2) Wyo vs. EMU, (Q3) ULM vs. MOH, (Q4) Wyo vs. MOH. PACKED SIDELINES. Host it at Ford Field after a Lions game—what could go wrong?!

Poll

How should the NCAA handle this year’s extra bowl-eligible teams?

This poll is closed

  • 37%
    MAC vs. the World
    (82 votes)
  • 12%
    FCS undercard
    (28 votes)
  • 21%
    Meet in the Middle — St. Louis, here we come!
    (46 votes)
  • 3%
    Expand the bowl slate for 2019 or 2020, but nothing sooner.
    (8 votes)
  • 22%
    They deserve to stay home — I’m a curmudgeonly asshole who cares not for my fellow football fan.
    (48 votes)
  • 2%
    Other (tell us in the comments!)
    (6 votes)
218 votes total Vote Now

I’ve given you at least three great ideas here, MAC, MWC, and Sun Belt. It’s up to you to implement them.

In all seriousness: Where it really gets shitty, though, is that those teams then fall vaguely behind their conference counterparts—they miss out on those 15 (or whatever) extra practices, lose out on a chance to try out that redshirt freshman QB in actual game play, and, yes, aren’t able to tell recruits they went to a bowl game, which is doubly-embarrassing because it’s because no one wants Miami-Ohio to come play. That sucks.

As someone who writes pieces about why you should watch these teams play in their weird Wednesday night, or snow-filled, or O/U 74-lined games, I want to watch as much weird football as I can, because these are guys out there chasing a dream just as much as at any of our favorite schools. I demand bowl berths for all of them and am willing to head up an NCAA Task Force (properly compensated, of course) to make these games happen.

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.
  • And again, a word on the formatting: I dunno. Sorry.

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.