Big Ten bowl projections: Week 2

Projecting where Big Ten teams will go bowling after only two weeks of the season is a nearly impossible task.

How, for example, can we really say with any certainty that Ohio State is better than Michigan or Northwestern right now? Or that Wisconsin, which has played nobody so far, is either for real or a paper tiger? How will the lower tier sort itself out in the conference race in the battle for bowl bids?

We can only make some educated guesses. Ohio State retains the top spot until we see strong evidence to change our opinion of the Buckeyes, but we admit that Michigan and Northwestern look awfully good after two games. The bigger questions this week are whether to continue giving Indiana the nod for a small bowl, whether Illinois can actually sneak into the postseason and what to make of Michigan State and Iowa.

Our answers, for now, are: no on Indiana (defense not good enough, two more tough nonconference teams); yes on Illinois (sounds crazy, but Illini should be no worse than 3-1 going into league play and would be favored right now over Purdue and Indiana); Michigan State is still too good defensively to not win at least six games and Iowa still needs to show us more to be included.

Like we said, it has been only two weeks. These things can change dramatically. Today, however, our projections look like this:

Rose Bowl presented by VIZIO, Jan. 1: Ohio State

BCS at-large: Michigan

Capital One, Jan. 1: Wisconsin

Outback, Jan. 1: Northwestern

TaxSlayer.com Gator, Jan. 1: Nebraska

Buffalo Wild Wings, Dec. 28: Minnesota

Texas, Dec. 27: Michigan State

Heart of Dallas, Jan. 1: Illinois