Big Ten bowl projections: All eyes on Corvallis

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

The Big Ten bowl picture is fairly clear with the regular season wrapped up. Barring a string of unlikely events, Penn State will be headed to the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1. The other Big Ten teams -- and the Nittany Lions, for that matter -- all are hoping Oregon knocks off Oregon State, clearing a path for Ohio State to earn a BCS at-large berth. Should the Beavers fall, the rest of the Big Ten probably moves up. If the Beavers prevail, the Big Ten probably stays put.

Any questions?

I thought Oregon State would lose to Arizona, and if the Wildcats had bothered to, you know, play defense in the final two minutes, it would have come true. Now that the Beavers have survived, they appear in good shape to beat Oregon.

To recap the situation:

Bowl eligible (7): Penn State (11-1, 7-1 Big Ten), Ohio State (10-2, 7-1), Michigan State (9-3, 6-2), Northwestern (9-3, 5-3), Iowa (8-4, 5-3), Minnesota (7-5, 3-5), Wisconsin (7-5, 3-5)

Staying home (4): Illinois (5-7, 3-5), Michigan (3-8, 2-5), Purdue (3-8, 1-6), Indiana (3-8, 1-6)

Big Ten bowl tie-ins (in order): Rose/BCS, Capital One, Outback, Alamo, Champs Sports, Insight, Motor City

Here are the team-by-team projections:


Sure, there's a miniscule chance that Penn State could crack the top two in the BCS standings, but at No. 8, it's extremely unlikely. The Nittany Lions carried roses in their teeth after Saturday's win against Michigan State. Penn State will be in Pasadena for the first time since Jan. 1, 1995.

Possibilities: BCS national championship, Rose

Prediction: Rose


The Scarlet and Gray will become the Green and Yellow this weekend as they root for Oregon to knock off Oregon State in Corvallis. An Oregon State loss likely gives Ohio State a BCS at-large berth. A Beavers win puts Ohio State in the Capital One Bowl.

Possibilities: BCS at-large (Fiesta, Sugar, Orange), Capital One

Prediction: Capital One


The Spartans also would benefit from an Oregon State loss, though they're most likely locked into a New Year's Day bowl in Florida. If Oregon State wins, it will come down to Michigan State, Northwestern and Iowa for the Outback Bowl. Iowa could make a push because of a strong finish and a star running back (Shonn Greene), but Michigan State should be safe. If the Big Ten sends two teams to BCS games, the Spartans likely head to the Capital One.

Possibilities: Capital One, Outback, Alamo

Prediction: Outback


There's an outside shot at the Outback Bowl, though Northwestern would need Oregon State to lose and for Outback representatives to prioritize national rank and head-to-head over Iowa's large fan base. The Wildcats travel well to bowl games, but it's hard not to see Iowa jumping ahead. An Oregon State win puts Northwestern in the Alamo or Champs Sports.

Possibilities: Outback, Alamo, Champs Sports

Prediction: Champs Sports


Not to be redundant, but the Hawkeyes will be pulling for an Oregon State loss this week. If the Beavers stumble, Iowa could be in the mix for the Outback Bowl with Michigan State and Northwestern. An Oregon State loss likely forces the Alamo to choose between 8-4 Iowa and 9-3 Northwestern. Iowa's fan base probably earns the invite to San Antonio.

Possibilities: Outback, Alamo, Champs Sports

Prediction: Alamo


Athletic director Barry Alvarez has a postseason destination in mind, and it's pretty clear he's talking about the Insight Bowl. If the Big Ten sends two teams to the BCS, Wisconsin could move up to Champs Sports. Otherwise, it's a trip to Tempe.

Possibilities: Champs Sports, Insight

Prediction: Insight


The Gophers' situation is pretty clear. They're going to Detroit for the Motor City Bowl unless the Big Ten sends two teams to the BCS and doesn't fill all of its bowl tie-ins. That's what happens when you lose four consecutive games to close the season. But the bowl experience still should be beneficial for a young team.

Possibilities: Insight, Motor City

Prediction: Motor City