Let's project some bowl games! First, let's check on the conference:
- Maryland went down to Sweetwater and thumped FIU. The 2-0 start might not be surprising, given the schedule, but the dominating fashion of both wins might raise some eyebrows.
- Indiana beat Ball State, but you already knew that.
- Ohio State, Michigan, Iowa, Nebraska, and Wisconsin all steamrolled their hapless guests.
- Minnesota and Rutgers struggled early, but eventually got the scoreline to hide that fact.
- Penn State lost to Pitt, glad they didn't do any weird posturing about being too good to play Pitt.
- Purdue lost by three touchdowns to Cincinnati at home, Illinois lost by four touchdowns to UNC at home, and Northwestern managed to outdo both of them by losing 9-7 to FCS side Illinois State.
B1G in the CFP?
It's looking pretty decent for the Big Ten early on! The bottom of the conference has completely dropped out, leaving plenty of easy wins for the top of the conference. Ohio State and Michigan are the obvious contenders through two weeks, but following Wisconsin's big win over LSU to open the year, they could find themselves on the periphery of the discussion when the first rankings are released in a month. Iowa, much like Wisconsin, has a plausible path as well.
I suppose I should mention Michigan State, but I can't see them beating OSU and Michigan for the second straight season. But if they can get to Indy with one loss or less, they'll have as good a claim as anyone.
Anyway, absent some ridiculous cannibalism among the top teams in the conference, I would imagine the Big Ten Championship Game will act as a quarterfinal for the CFP, much like it did last season. There are crazy pitfalls in every contender's schedule though. OSU travels to Oklahoma this weekend and has to go to Wisconsin later. Michigan plays at MSU and OSU. Michigan State gets the B1G East contenders at home, but has to travel to South Bend this weekend and Bloomington the next (for a treacherous prime time tilt against the #CHAOSTEAM). The easiest road to 12-0 is Iowa's. They have Michigan and Wisconsin on the schedule, but get both of them at home. Is anyone ready for two straight years of UNDEFEATED IOWA? The bars in Indianapolis probably aren't.
Ohio State: CFP Semifinal vs. Louisville
Wisconsin: Rose Bowl vs. Washington
Michigan: Orange Bowl vs. Florida State
Iowa: Outback Bowl vs. LSU
Nebraska: Pinstripe Bowl vs. Auburn
Michigan State: Holiday Bowl vs. Oregon
Indiana: Music City Bowl vs. Florida
Penn State: Foster Farms Bowl vs. Utah
Maryland: Quick Lane Bowl vs. NC State
Minnesota: Heart of Dallas Bowl vs. Western Kentucky
LOL NAH: Illinois, Purdue, Rutgers, Northwestern
Big Ten bowl selection procedures are a bit wacky in an effort to get a diverse group of teams into each bowl on a year-to-year basis. No team can go to the same bowl twice (unless it's the CFP or the Rose Bowl) and most bowls have contractual agreements to take a certain minimum of teams over the life of the agreement. They've largely done away with the tiers from a couple of years ago, instead letting the bowls pick in a determined order (after the CFP shakes out) but restricted by the parameters discussed above.
These are all wrong, I reckon.