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B1G Bowl Projections: Northwestern Chaos Lords Edition

Much of the B1G was mired in conference play this weekend. Michigan State likely ended Nebraska's CFP hopes while re-igniting their own. Illinois is in a bad, bad place right now. And Northwestern is drunk at 10 AM and lighting off fireworks in your kitchen.

Pretty good encapsulation of the B1G season, so far.
Pretty good encapsulation of the B1G season, so far.
Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Only six Big Ten Games occurred this weekend, so it's a short CARNAGE REPORT:

  • Indiana was the only team not playing a conference game. They throttled notably bad football team North Texas. You probably knew that.
  • Ohio State gave Maryland the kind of B1G welcome the Hoosiers were hoping to give last week, annihilating the Terrapins in front of their fans in a very merciless fashion. Maybe Maryland will think about that the next time they come to Bloomington and try to beat us to a pulp. Maybe.
  • Michigan State welcomed Nebraska to East Lansing and held off a furious 4th quarter rally by the Huskers. Noted soothsayer Tommy Armstrong Jr. promised that Nebraska will go 11-1 and see MSU again in Indianapolis. Thanks for the spoilers, and I mean that sincerely. I might have had to watch a Nebraska-Rutgers game if you hadn't just told me the ending.
  • Speaking of Rutgers, they narrowly edged out an incomprehensibly bad Michigan team and RUSHED THE FIELD. This is like rushing the basketball court after beating an unranked Minnesota team, and who would ever do that?
  • In a game contractually-obligated to occur, Illinois was completely outclassed by Purdue but Tim Beckman maintains that if you take away all those points Purdue scored, Illinois would have won. (Never letting that quote go. Ever.)
  • Northwestern continues their reign of terror over the conference as they took down another supposedly good team in Wisconsin. It's all fine if Northwestern keeps it up and gets to six wins, but I have this feeling they're gonna finish 5-7 instead of 3-9 and take out a couple other team's bowl bids with them.

B1G in the CFP?

Michigan State: I figured the Spartans would beat Nebraska but didn't count on it being enough to get them back into the CFP discussion. However, given that literally every other ranked team probably lost over the weekend, I think the Spartans are at least on the periphery of the discussion. Which means this section of the article lives for at least one more week. I think MSU has shown enough to deserve Top 4 consideration to this point, but they cannot afford to drop another game. There are plenty of SEC teams that will line up for their spot if they do.


Tier 1 (New Year's Worthy): Michigan State

Tier 2: Nebraska, Ohio State, Wisconsin

Tier 3: Iowa, Minnesota, Penn State

Tier 4: Indiana, Maryland

Won't Have to Lose a Bowl Game: Rutgers, Northwestern, Michigan, Purdue, Illinois

Not a ton of movement this week given that the entirety of last week's third tier were idle this weekend. Nebraska is probably behind the 8-ball to get into the New Year's Day games unless MSU goes to the CFP, and I'm not currently projecting that to happen with the loaded SEC now trending way up. Wisconsin should probably be in the third tier, but with all three of those teams not playing it was hard to swap someone up, and it doesn't help that all the teams in tiers 3/4 are deeply, deeply flawed.

Indiana remains on schedule for a bowl appearance, particularly with a very favorable slate of games after MSU in two weeks. A win at Iowa next Saturday would be enormous. There's always the looming caveat, though: as there is never a bigger difference between the possible and the reality when it comes to Indiana football. The passing game should have a lot of confidence after a great performance against North Texas, but they're much closer to Indiana State than Iowa in terms of talent.

Rutgers probably should be in because they only need to find ONE WIN in the second half of their season to make a bowl and that seems fairly probable, numerically. But they have Indiana at home and Maryland on the road as their two best shots, with the other four games being highly unlikely, as we've discussed. It's highly unlikely that Maryland and Rutgers both get in, as it's pretty likely that the game between the two of them will likely be between two 5-win teams, with the loser staying home for the holidays. I'm currently projecting Maryland to win that game, so they're in and Rutgers is out. If Rutgers beats IU though, that will not only put them in, but take IU out.

Maryland's hopes hinge on which defensive performance was closer to reality. If the IU game is the better indicator, than they're in good shape. But if OSU more or less exposed the Terrapins, they could be in deep trouble.

MICHIGAN STATE: At-Large Bid to the Cotton Bowl against Baylor

NEBRASKA: Outback Bowl against Mizzou

WISCONSIN: Holiday Bowl against Arizona

OHIO STATE: Capital One Bowl against Alabama

IOWA: Music City Bowl against Tennessee

MINNESOTA: San Francisco Bowl against Arizona State

PENN STATE: Pinstripe Bowl against Miami

INDIANA: Quick Lane Bowl against Duke

MARYLAND: Heart of Dallas Bowl against UTEP