The Nittany Lions finish the season at Ohio State and Wisconsin. The OSU game looks like a toss-up, and the Badgers will likely destroy them. That season ending tilt is looking like it’ll be the Leaders division championship game, with the winner going to Indianapolis. So Penn State still has a chance to go to the Big Ten title game and the Rose Bowl; although it looks much less likely given how they performed Saturday.
Remember, the bowl selection process is arbitrary and capricious to say the least, and since PSU is a branding and PR nightmare right now, they could fall to the Ticketcity or Meineke Bowl. If it comes to that, hopefully the school will do the right thing and decline their bid. Even if it doesn’t come to that, and PSU ends up in one of the top five slots, they should do the right thing and decline their invitation.
The Big Ten has eight teams eligible, and thanks to a couple recent upsets by Northwestern and Purdue, the Big Ten could likely see a conference-record 10 bowl teams. As long as NU beats the Gophers at home Saturday, and the Boilers take care of the Hoosiers on rivalry weekend, it’ll happen.
Unfortunately, the league will get shut out of a second BCS-bowl bid for the first time since 2004. Sure Boise St. and the Big East could easily be left out (and in the case of the latter, there REALLY should be), but Michigan St. is the highest ranked league team in the most recent BCS standings, and they’re just #15.
So I wouldn’t expect anyone to jump up into the top ten. And even with those eight bowl tie-ins, the league will need to fill minor bowls, make that REALLY minor bowls who aren’t getting filled by conference tie-ins: this includes the Pinstripe (in Yankee Stadium), the Kraft Fight Hunger (San Francisco)
the New Mexico (I think you can guess where it is) and the Military (Washington, D.C.).
I will say this for the D-list bowls, they’re in some much more fun, cool cities than many of the bowls above them.
Here’s my updated Big Ten bowl projection:
1.) Wisconsin Badgers (8-2, 4-2)
ROSE- Still the class of the league, and the only school to be ranked in the top 5 at any point this season. Despite the recent setbacks, the early season dominance still resonates with the college football world and that will only help their selling points to the BcS. Just need to win out to stay here.
2.) Michigan State Spartans (8-2, 5-1)
CAPITAL ONE- Have inside track for Legends division berth in the league title game. Can get the Rose Bowl bid- simply beat Sconnie again; this time on a neutral field.
3.) Michigan Wolverines (8-2, 4-2)
OUTBACK-Will end up much better than they deserve simply because they’re Michigan.
4.) Nebraska Cornhuskers (7-1, 3-1)
GATOR- Corn Nation travels en masse to bowl games every year, and the bowls are well aware of that.
5.) Ohio State Buckeyes (6-4, 3-3)
INSIGHT- This really isn’t fair? A lot of mediocre junk down here. But the piece of junk with the brand name goes first.
6.) Iowa Hawkeyes (6-4, 3-3)
MEINEKE CAR CARE- Not really doing themselves any favors right now
7.) Penn State Nittany Lions (8-2, 5-1)
TICKET CITY- Just do the right thing, step out, and let everyone else in the league move up.
8.) Illinois Fighting Illini (6-4, 2-4)
PIZZA- really need to beat Minnesota in two weeks to even stay here. That’s a tragedy when you consider they were once 6-0, and ranked #16. Offense is just a TRAIN WRECK right now, and that metaphor has double meaning because….
9.) Purdue Boilermakers
FIGHT HUNGER- …these guys could easily leap frog the Illini. Look at what a muddled, middle-heavy, massively mediocre mess the league is this year
10.) Northwestern Wildcats
NEW MEXICO- the dark side of parity, the bowl system is like the prom, everyone goes. Or not, someone, perhaps two bowl eligible teams will be home for the holidays.
A Fulbright scholar and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; he’s also a member of the FWAA, USBWA and SPJ. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too.