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College Football: Big Ten Bowl Projections Heading into Week 12
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14 Nov 2017 05:47 PM EST

-by T.J. Inman, Contributing Writer; Image: Ohio State’s Mike Weber runs away from Michigan State defenders for touchdown. (Image Source: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Bloomington, IN—Projecting where the Big Ten teams might go bowling:

Fiesta Bowl – Ohio State vs. USC - December 30 at 4 pm –

The Fiesta Bowl will be filled by two at-large teams chosen by the committee. Here’s what I wrote last week: “I have Ohio State here because I believe they’ll now do what they always do when faced with program “crisis” …they’ll fall back on the running game that they forgot about while getting blown out and they’ll grind teams into the ground.” Well, I love saying “I told you so” because it so rarely happens so, I told you so. They bludgeoned Michigan State and if they beat Michigan followed by a win over Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game, their resume would be impressive enough (and their program cache would be good enough) to get them selected. Washington lost to Stanford so I’ll change this to USC. Buckeyes versus Trojans in a Rose Bowl-esque desert battle.

Orange Bowl – Wisconsin vs. Clemson – December 30 at 8 pm

This is pretty simple for the Badgers. If they can win out, they’ll be 13-0 and I cannot imagine a 13-0 Big Ten champion being left out of the playoff. However, I am projecting they will lose to either Michigan or in the Big Ten title game and finish at 12-1. They’d still likely be the top-ranked Big Ten team. Would a 12-1 Wisconsin be ranked higher than the second-placed SEC team (likely Georgia, possibly Auburn)? I think it’s very possible so I will slot Wisconsin into the Orange Bowl and give them the 11-2 Clemson Tigers (losers to Miami in the ACC title game) as an opponent.

Outback Bowl – Penn State vs. Mississippi State – January 1 at noon

The Citrus Bowl has an ACC/Big Ten option. Since I have a Big Ten team (Wisconsin) being ranked higher than the second-ranked SEC team or Notre Dame, the Big Ten gets the Orange. This means the first non-New Year’s Six game for the conference is the Outback Bowl. This matchup has previously been listed as the Michigan State Spartans against Texas A&M and then as Northwestern against Mississippi State. Penn State will not be making the playoff as they now have two losses, the slimmest of chances to win the Big Ten East, and no real standout win on their resume. Still, they will likely be 10-2 and are a very capable team. Mississippi State is a very talented opponent and this would be a tremendous matchup.

TaxSlayer Bowl – Northwestern vs. LSU – December 30 at noon

Michigan State, Iowa, Michigan, and Northwestern are all in very interesting spots. After slotting Michigan State in here for the better part of the season, I am now moving Northwestern up. They have won five-straight games and it seems likely they’ll finish the season at 9-3. LSU is 7-3 but they should go 9-3 or 8-4 at worst.

Music City Bowl – Michigan State vs. South Carolina – December 29 at 4:30

I’m keeping South Carolina in this contest but I have adjusted the Big Ten team in this game. Iowa and Michigan State are sliding down and Northwestern is rising. I’ll put the Spartans in Nashville and have them battling the Gamecocks. MSU just needs to take care of business against Maryland and Rutgers to end up at 9-3.

Holiday Bowl – Michigan vs. Stanford – December 28 at 9:00

This matchup makes all the sense in the world. I am projecting the Wolverines at 8-4 (losses to Wisconsin and Ohio State still coming). They’ll like slot behind both Penn State and Michigan State (even if they are playing much better at the moment). The narrative in this game would be obvious: Jim Harbaugh versus David Shaw. Harbaugh versus the program he helped rise to prominence, Bryce Love versus the Wolverine defense. Neither team looks likely to have the kind of season they dreamed of but this would be a fun finish for both of them. Michigan is playing really well and it would not be a surprise to see them beat either Wisconsin or Ohio State to improve their stock but for now, I’m projecting them here. As for Stanford, they lost to Washington State and this appears to be about the best they can do unless they can knock out the Irish and get to nine wins.

Foster Farms Bowl – Iowa vs. Arizona – December 27 at 8:30

The Iowa Hawkeyes are probably going to win eight games. That’s terrific for them and it’s a season they can be quite happy with. However, the bowl game reward might not be quite as juicy as they would have hoped for because they have losses to Northwestern and Michigan State so they won’t get picked ahead of those two. I’m giving them a matchup against the exciting Arizona Wildcats and their breakout star, Khalil Tate.

Pinstripe Bowl – IU vs. Louisville – December 27 at 5:15

The Indiana Hoosiers are back in my bowl projections. Am I confident in IU’s ability to defeat both Rutgers and Purdue? Not really. This team has made far too many mistakes to have anyone feeling confident about their chances but Rutgers and Purdue are imminently beatable. Plus, I’m feeling optimistic. Until this is no longer a possibility, I’m rolling with it. The opponent projects as the Louisville Cardinals (projecting them to be 7-5) and Lamar Jackson in a return trip to New York City for the Pinstripe Bowl.

Quick Lane Bowl – TBD

No other Big Ten team reaches bowl eligibility.

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