For the first time this fall, we can say that bowl projections are actually pretty easy this week.
All the Big Ten regular-season games are done, so we know exactly which teams are going bowling and which teams are not. And unless Wisconsin pulls an upset in the Big Ten championship game, the slotting looks fairly clear as well.
We know this much: If Nebraska wins, it will obviously go to the Rose Bowl. There will definitely be no at-large BCS bid in that scenario. The Capital One Bowl would then likely take Michigan with its No. 2 pick. Northwestern would go to the Outback, while Wisconsin would go to the Gator. Michigan State is a near-lock for the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, with Minnesota going to the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas and Purdue joining the Gophers in the Lone Star State in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.
The monkey wrench comes in if Wisconsin were to win Saturday in Indianapolis. Nebraska could still be in range for an at-large BCS bid with a loss, but a potential 10-3 Huskers team would probably need some help -- and for a big bowl to be enamored with the Big Red fan base.
If the Huskers were to sneak into an at-large BCS game, everyone but Michigan would then likely just move up a spot. If Nebraska misses out on the BCS party, the Capital One Bowl says it still can select Michigan ahead of Nebraska despite a 2-win differential. The Cap One would like to avoid a Nebraska repeat, but it also doesn't want a Michigan-Alabama rematch if it comes to that.
But for now, we're sticking with our projection of Nebraska as Big Ten champion, though we reserve the right to change our mind before our official Big Ten title game picks later this week. So the bowl lineup looks like this:
Rose Bowl, Jan. 1: Nebraska
Capital One Bowl, Jan. 1: Michigan
Outback Bowl, Jan. 1: Northwestern
Gator Bowl, Jan. 1: Wisconsin
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, Dec. 29: Michigan State
Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas, Dec. 28: Minnesota
Heart of Dallas Bowl, Jan. 1: Purdue
Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, Dec. 26: At large (will not filled by Big Ten)