Dienhart: My Week 9 Big Ten bowl projections

Michigan further solidified its status as the Rose Bowl front-runner in the Big Ten with a third win in a row. This time, the Wolverines dumped Michigan State, 12-10, ending the Spartans’ four-game winning skein in the series.

A victory at Nebraska this week will put Michigan in the driver’s seat in the Legends Division—and as the Big Ten’s best bowl-eligible team.

Wisconsin also padded its resume with a 38-13 domination of Minnesota. The 6-2 Badgers look to be in control in the Leaders and may round into the best team in the Big Ten before it’s all said and done. Stay tuned. No other Leaders Division squad that isn’t on probation has a Big Ten victory. Ohio State is 8-0 and Penn State is 5-2 with a 3-0 Big Ten mark, but they aren’t bowl-eligible.

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Even if they beat the Badgers later this year, it may not matter, as Wisconsin figures to have a big enough buffer over Purdue, Illinois and Indiana to still earn a spot in Indianapolis in the league championship game.

By the way: Michigan and Wisconsin don’t play during the season.

Nebraska’s 29-28 win at Northwestern keeps it in the hunt in the Legends—and for a prime bowl game in Florida.

But Iowa has work to do coming off a tough 38-14 home loss to Penn State. Northwestern already is bowl eligible but is looking for much more. But with two Big Ten losses, it will need to win out and get a lot of help to reach the summit of the Legends Division.

Bowl possibilities may be dimming for 4-3 Minnesota, 3-4 Purdue and 4-4 Michigan State, who all may be hard-pressed to reach the six victories needed for bowl eligibility. The loser of this week’s Purdue at Minnesota game will be in a precarious situation. For the Spartans, it may come down to sweeping season-ending games vs. Northwestern and at Minnesota.

And while history says the Big Ten is likely to get two teams in the BCS (It has had two teams in the BCS 11 times in the 14-year history of the system and each season since 2005), it’s probably a long shot to happen this season.

Here is my ninth look at where your school may be bowling over the holidays.

Little Caesars Pizza Bowl
Wed., Dec. 26 @ 7:30 p.m. ET
Big Ten No. 8 vs. MAC Northern Illinois vs. Minnesota
Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas
Fri. Dec. 28 @ 9 p.m. ET
Big Ten No. 6 vs. Big 12 West Virginia vs. Michigan State
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl
Sat., Dec. 29 @ 10:15 p.m. ET
Big Ten Nos. 4-5 vs. Big 12 TCU vs. Northwestern
Heart of Dallas Bowl
Tue., Jan. 1 @ noon ET
Big Ten No. 7 vs. C-USA Tulsa vs. Purdue
TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl
Tue., Jan. 1 @ noon ET
Big Ten Nos. 4-5 vs. SEC South Carolina vs. Iowa
Outback Bowl
Tue., Jan. 1 @ 1 p.m. ET
Big Ten No. 3 vs. SEC Georgia vs. Nebraska
Capital One Bowl
Tue., Jan. 1 @ 1 p.m. ET
Big Ten No. 2 vs. SEC LSU vs. Wisconsin
Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio
Tue., Jan. 1 @ 5 p.m. ET
Big Ten No. 1 vs. Pac-12 USC vs. Michigan

Here’s my list from last week.

BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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Your Opinion?
Show Comments (6 Comments)
Dk on 10/22/2012 @ 3:44pm EDT Said:

we Comin Ohio State….GO BLUE

jack on 10/22/2012 @ 6:55pm EDT Said:

I think Northwestern goes to Gator, Iowa to Texas bowl, and MSU to Bww’s bowl. Otherwise, good stuff.

dickh on 10/22/2012 @ 9:51pm EDT Said:

Minnesota in a Bowl Game? Who are they going to beat to get two more wins?? The B1G will not have enough teams this year to fulfill their dance card.

jackflash on 10/24/2012 @ 7:17pm EDT Said:

I have spent 51 years in the heart of B1G country and I agree that they may not fill their slots and IF these matchups were to take place the over/under on wins would be 1.5

W. Olsen on 10/26/2012 @ 8:05pm EDT Said:

Hey Tom, Tomorrow evening following the Badgers take over M.S. you’ll be changing your pick of who’ll be representing the BT in the Rose Bowl. Michigan stunk against a very weak MS team last week. Wiscy defense will take care of Robinson, and the Badgers will run and pass all over Michigan in the BTC. The Badgers will take care of O.S. in Madison. Both Michigan and OS are only one dimensional teams. Trust me, W

Ken Peacock on 10/28/2012 @ 9:47am EDT Said:

Never trust a someone who says ‘trust me’. What think you now, Karnack? GO GREEN. BigBurd