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Big Ten Bowl Projections: The Hoosiers are down to their very last chance

After another season full of what could have been, Indiana faces the same task they faced in Game 12 last year: get The Bucket, get a Bowl.

Great picture from a dumb game.
Great picture from a dumb game.
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Indiana took a lead into halftime at the Big House and couldn't hold on in the second half, a movie we've surely seen enough. Onto the-


  • Ohio State hung on for dear life against Michigan State, who made a valiant effort to set the College Football Playoff on fire for the second week in a row.
  • Wisconsin drubbed Purdue, it was the fourth straight week that the Boilermakers surrendered at least 40 points.
  • Penn State shut out Rutgers, who now exist solely to make West Lafayette not feel so bad about their miserable football season.
  • Nebraska handled Maryland on Senior Day. The Terrapins, like Indiana, now have to defeat a horrible team in the last week of the regular season to become bowl eligible.
  • Iowa shut out Illinois, getting a 7th win that could prove to be huge in the race to snag the Music City invite, easily the top choice of the lower-tiered B1G bowls.
  • Minnesota beat Northwestern and is on track to go 8-4 playing the most absurdly easy schedule one can concoct for a Power Five team. A Big Ten West team with crossover opponents including Rutger and Maryland, holy god.

B1G in the CFP

THE FAVORITE(S): Ohio State, Michigan

THE DARK HORSE(S): Wisconsin? Penn State?!

My thinking here is pretty simple: the winner of The Game is going to the playoff regardless of what happens in the Big Ten Championship game, and Wisconsin can possibly join them if they win the Big Ten. If OSU defeats Michigan and Penn State defeats Wisconsin, I think the Nittany Lions will be weighed down too heavily by their losses (narrowly to Pitt, widely to Michigan) whereas Wisconsin played both OSU and Michigan close. A big win over Michigan / Penn State would make them an attractive pick.

Now if Penn State just thrashes Wisconsin, that could change things. But I don't see that happening. We also have a possible one-loss conference champion in Washington hanging around as well. Does the committee shut them out in favor of two Big Ten teams? I don't think so. Which leads to the possibility that the Big Ten Championship game of Wisconsin and Penn State will have next to no bearing on the playoff, assuming Washington and Clemson hold serve in their respective title races.

If one of them slips, however, the door flings wide open for a second B1G team. Entertain this idea: Washington slips up, Michigan narrowly edges Ohio State (less than 3 points), then thrashes Wisconsin in the title game. I can see the committee putting OSU and Michigan in the playoff at that point. Or Oklahoma. Or ... Colorado?! Does Penn State come back into the picture?

What if Michigan beats Ohio State and then gets beaten by Wisconsin? Could you shut out the Big Ten entirely? Based on what happens in the next couple weeks, you could argue anywhere from two to zero B1G playoff teams. Crazy!

MY TOP FOUR: 1. Alabama 2. Clemson 3. Washington 4. Ohio State

Bowl Projections (bowl-eligible teams marked with an *)

Ohio State*: CFP Semifinal vs. Alabama

Michigan*: Rose Bowl vs. Colorado

Wisconsin*: Orange Bowl vs. Louisville

Penn State*: Cotton Bowl vs. Western Michigan

Nebraska*: Outback Bowl vs. Auburn

Minnesota*: Holiday Bowl vs. Utah

Iowa*: Music City Bowl vs. Arkansas

Northwestern: Pinstripe Bowl vs. Pittsburgh

Indiana: Foster Farms Bowl vs. Washington State

Maryland: Quick Lane Bowl vs. Georgia Tech