Here are my last bowl projections of the year. On Sunday, we'll have actual bowl pairings, including the four College Football Playoff teams.
How many of those four will be from the Big Ten? The league still has a chance to get more than one. But for that to happen, I believe, there must be some casualties elsewhere. Washington probably has to lose to Colorado in the Pac-12 title game. Or Clemson must lost to Virginia Tech in the ACC championship tilt. If one or both of those happens, I think the Big Ten gets two teams (and maybe three, if both the Tigers and Huskies lose).
For now, though, I'm sticking with one playoff team from the Big Ten: No. 2 Ohio State. No, the Buckeyes aren't playing in Indianapolis this weekend, but they've still got the best résumé, by far, of any league team -- or any team in the country -- even without a conference championship.
The winner Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium is likely bound for the Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual. I won't reveal my pick for that game just yet, but No. 6 Wisconsin is ranked higher than No. 7 Penn State and is an ever-so-slight favorite. We'll use that in tabulating these projections.
Figuring out how to sort out Nebraska and Iowa is interesting, especially after the Hawkeyes' 40-10 victory on Black Friday. But the Cornhuskers have never played in the Outback Bowl. Iowa hasn't been to the National Funding Holiday Bowl in 25 years but has been to the Outback a bunch recently. Given the Big Ten's emphasis on fresh destinations, this seems like important information.
Congratulations to Indiana, Maryland and Northwestern, who all clinched bowl eligibility last week, as I confidently predicted they would. There's a chance Indiana could go to the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl to renew its rivalry with Kentucky, which might send Minnesota to New York City and Northwestern to the Foster Farms Bowl. We shall see on that front.
The latest (and last) projections:
College Football Playoff: Ohio State
Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual: Wisconsin
Capital One Orange Bowl: Michigan
Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic: Penn State
Outback Bowl: Nebraska
National Funding Holiday Bowl: Iowa
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl: Minnesota
New Era Pinstripe Bowl: Northwestern
Foster Farms Bowl: Indiana
Quick Lane Bowl: Maryland
Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl: Not filled