Big 10 Bowl Projections: It All Starts with the Wisconsin Badgers

Big 10 Bowl Projections: It All Starts with the Wisconsin Badgers

When looking at the Big Ten conference standings, and trying to figure out the hierarchy for the college football bowl system, I can’t help but think of one of my favorite lines from the ’80s movie “Fletch.”

“I’d say we’re in a gray area.”

“How gray?”


We do know this however- the Big Ten bellcow is still Wisconsin (get it bellcow, dairy state?). The Badgers, last year’s Rose Bowl representative is still the favorite to go to Pasadena this year.

Last fall, three conference teams: Wisconsin, Ohio St. and Michigan St. all went 11-1. Two of them got BcS bids, and MSU probably deserved a third. Until you saw what their former coach Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide did to them on New Year’s Day. This year the league will get one, no way they get two. And it’s impossible for any conference to get three.

There are 6 slots for the champions of these AQ or Automatic Qualifier conferences: Big Ten, Big East, ACC, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC. That includes the #1 vs. #2 in the title game. I predict the four BcS at large bids will be accounted for as follows- second bids for the Big 12, SEC and Pac-12, and the final slot to Boise State.

The last couple years the Big 10 has had two BcS slots meaning every conference team has got to jump up one in the pecking order. Obviously, that won’t happen this year. So here’s how it breaks down, with all the conference bowl tie-ins and the order in which they get to choose from the available teams.

Rose Bowl  #1

Capital One #2

Outback #3

Gator Bowl #4 or #5

Ticket City or Meineke Car Care #6

Insight #4 or #5

Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl #7

Thanks to an almost perfect permutation of possible outcomes, perfect if your goal was parity and national irrelevance (as I pointed out in my last Big Ten Power Rankings), no Big Ten team is ranked high enough to be a BcS player, but you have all eight of your slots already filled with bowl eligible teams. So for now, I’ll just rank the 8 eligible teams (Purdue and Northwestern, if/when you get there, I’ll slot you then) in terms of where I think they’ll finish. This is not based on today, but where I think it will all be when the dust settles.

1.)  Wisconsin Badgers (7-2, 3-2)

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. Having the league’s marquee player in Russell Wilson, who’s set to break the passing efficiency and consecutive games with a TD pass record, helps even more.

They slaughtered Purdue 62-17 after dropping back-to-back games

“We’ve won so many games around here I was trying to remember the last time we lost two games back-to-back. It’s been a while, and you’re just not used to that feeling, they’re not used to it and I don’t want our kids to ever get used to it,” Wisconsin Coach Bret Bielema said.

I’d say their back on track.

They’re especially dominant at home, where they draw huge crowds. And that rabid fan base travels really well too. In short, they’ll set the pace for everyone falls into line when it comes to the conference handing out its bowl bids.

“I think we needed a win, not necessarily a blowout win. It’s something that we just go out and do. For us, it was another game that we needed a win,” Left Guard Trevor Frederick said.

2.)  Michigan Wolverines (7-2, 3-2)

CAPITAL ONE- Will end up much better than they deserve simply because they’re Michigan.

 3.)  Nebraska Cornhuskers (7-1, 3-1)

OUTBACK- Northwestern loss yesterday HURTS them. Still, Corn Nation travels en masse to bowl games every year, and the bowls are well aware of that.

4.)  Penn State Nittany Lions (8-1, 5-0)

INSIGHT- Remember this process is NOT a meritocracy. The BcS does something that makes zero sense each year and then the other bowls always follow suit. This year will be no exception. Now that PSU is getting into the real meat and potatoes of their schedule, they’ll starting losing and drop down. JoePa, and the school’s fine tradition, will be a big draw though. Won’t go back to Gator Bowl, since they were there last year. Coincidentally against the Gators. (That’s not fair is it?)

5.) Ohio State Buckeyes (6-3, 3-2)

GATOR- Will probably beat Penn State 2-0 when they meet later this season, in the ugliest, most boring game in Big Ten history. Will get a better bowl than they deserve because so many people are just BUCKNUTS over this team and will follow them wherever they go.

6.)  Michigan State Spartans (7-2, 4-1)

MEINEKE CAR CARE- Too much of a college basketball school, and too mediocre a history in football to leapfrog anyone.

7.) Illinois Fighting Illini (6-3, 2-3)

TICKET CITY- Won’t go back to Houston, so Dallas it is. To end up way down here after starting 6-0 is kind of pathetic when you think about it. Losing to Purdue is still mind-bogglingly inexplicable.

8.) Iowa Hawkeyes (6-3, 3-2)

PIZZA  Could easily leapfrog a couple spots.

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports, a Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports.

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.


Leave a comment
  • This is perhaps the single most clueless article I have ever read on the Big Ten. You clearly have absolutely no idea how the bowl process works. Wisconsin to the Rose because they have the most marquee player? Sorry, but the only way you get to the Rose Bowl is by winning the Big Ten title. That's the only way. That one.

  • Just wondering if you checked your article or did research prior to posting this? You have records wrong and did not even explain what needs to happen for Wisconsin to even have a shot at the Rose Bowl. Right now Wisconsin is behind Penn State and Ohio State to even go to the Big10 Championship game, let alone the Rose Bowl. Next time you need to check your facts before posting something like this.

  • I never said the Rose Bowl would pick Wisconsin based on their intangibles. I never said that bid would go to anyone other than the Big Ten champion. You're inferring things into what was actually typed. I just said it would be good for the league, if Wisconsin "carried the flag" for the conference

  • Sure Paul, that's why you're talking about "selling points to the BcS" right? You're making an argument that would be applicable to an at-large berth despite the fact that the only Big Ten team that will be suiting up in Pasadena will be doing so based solely on winning in Indy.

Leave a comment

  • ChicagoNow is full of win

    Welcome to ChicagoNow.

    Meet our bloggers,
    post comments, or
    pitch your blog idea.

  • Advertisement:
  • Meet The Blogger

    Paul M. Banks

    Paul M. Banks runs The Sports and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now and Minute Media. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, NBC and Chicago, currently contributes regularly to WGN CLTV and ChicagoNow. He's been a featured guest in dozens of media outlets including The History Channel. His work has been cited in hundreds of publications including the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post.

  • Categories

  • Latest on ChicagoNow

  • Advertisement: