By Mike Jones on October 9, 2018 at 5:10 pm
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I knew it was only a matter of time before the Big Ten started to get a little weird. Northwestern, a team that was demolished by Duke and upset by mighty Akron, decided maybe they should stop laughing themselves off of the football and win a game of importance. They did that on Saturday, upsetting #20 Michigan State 29-19 in East Lansing. Now, why was Michigan State ranked 20th? No idea. They’d almost lost to Utah State to open up the season, they lost to Arizona State and only beat Central Michigan by 11. So yeah, I have no idea why Michigan State was even ranked.

Maryland and Indiana were sent spiraling back to earth, as they endured beatings from Michigan and Ohio State. Indiana, Iowa’s upcoming opponent, was “plucky” in their loss to the Buckeyes but hey, Indiana usually is plucky. Until they actually win one of those games they continue to be only plucky and not someone to be taken all that seriously. Unless Antwaan Randle El walks through that door…

We’re also at the point in the season where I can comfortably start making predictions on who will be bowl eligible to close out the season. It looks something like this:

Bowl Eligible: Ohio State.

To Be Eligible: Michigan, Penn State, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Iowa, Indiana.

Maybe: Northwestern, Minnesota, Maryland.

Queso Bowl: Rutgers, Nebraska, Illinois, Purdue.

Addressing the maybe, these middle tier teams are all 3-2 or worse and will likely cannibalize each other. Northwestern has Nebraska, Rutgers and Illinois on the schedule, games they’ll need to win to get to 5 wins. Then, there’s Iowa and Minnesota, so they’ll need an upset to get to six. Northwestern is always good for an upset (PLEASE UPSET WISCONSIN OR NOTRE DAME NOT IOWA) so 6 isn’t out of the question. Minnesota still has Nebraska, Indiana, Illinois, Purdue and Northwestern on the schedule. I think they can win 3 games in there. Maryland has Rutgers, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan State on the schedule. They’ll need an upset but again, Michigan State isn’t any good so…

Might be surprised to see that I’m already throwing in the towel on Purdue. Sorry, Boilers. If you hadn’t lost to EMU and weren’t 2-3 with Ohio State, Wisconsin and trips to Michigan State and Indiana on the schedule, I’d have a little more faith. Purdue gonna end the season the best 4-8 team in the nation.

Or second best, right behind Iowa State.

We’ll talk Iowa’s bowl after the rules.

The Rules

  • Four teams are chosen for the College Football Playoff and six bowls rotate for the semifinals: Rose, Sugar, Cotton, Fiesta, Orange, and Peach. The bowls hosting the semifinals this year are the Orange Bowl and the Cotton Bowl.
  • The National Championship will be played at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California on January 7th, 2019.
  • As the Rose Bowl is not hosting a semifinal, if the Big Ten Champion is selected for the College Football Playoff, the next highest ranked team by the CFB Playoff Committee, or the runner-up, will be selected for the Rose Bowl.
  • The highest-ranked champion from the Group of Five mid-majors (AAC, C-USA, MAC, MWC, Sun Belt) is guaranteed a spot in the non-playoff bowls if they fail to make the playoff.
  • The Big Ten has a six-year contract with the eight non-playoff bowl games (through the 2019 season). The Big Ten has an eight-year contract with the Pinstripe Bowl (through 2021).
  • The non-playoff bowls are broken down into three tiers. Tier 1: Holiday, Citrus and Outback. Tier 2: Pinstripe, Music City/TaxSlayer, and Redbox (formerly known as the Foster Farms Bowl). Tier 3: Quick Lane and First Responder (formerly known as the Heart of Dallas Bowl)/Armed Forces.
  • As the Orange Bowl is a CFB Playoff Bowl, the Citrus Bowl will feature a Big Ten team this season.
  • The Music City/TaxSlayer and First Responder/Armed Forces Bowls supposedly alternate each year. I’ve been doing this for a while and that’s the “official” line I always get. Despite this, an ACC team has played in the TaxSlayer Bowl for two straight seasons telling me that there really aren’t any hard and fast rules when it comes to bowl selections. It’s all about straight cash, homie.  
  • Iowa has played in the following bowls since 2010: Insight, Outback, TaxSlayer, Rose, Outback, and Pinstripe.

Media Projections:

247 Sports: Holiday, vs. Stanford

Bleacher Report: Citrus, vs. LSU

CBS Sports: Holiday, vs. Stanford

College Football News: Outback, vs. LSU

ESPN (Mitch Sherman): Redbox, vs. Utah

ESPN (Kyle Bonagura): Holiday, vs. Oregon

SBNation: Holiday, vs. Utah

Sporting News: Gator, vs. Auburn

Sports Illustrated: Citrus, vs. Florida

Slowly, but surely, the Hawkeyes are moving towards a unanimous Tier 1 bowl projection. Mitch Sherman of ESPN is the sole holdout, projecting the Hawkeyes to play Utah in the Redbox Bowl. I’m not skeptical of this projection because I don’t think he’s watched Iowa play football. I’m actually skeptical because I don’t think he’s watched Utah play football. The Utes just demolished Stanford at Stanford and don’t have a single ranked team remaining on their schedule. I’m comfortable saying that they’re going to finish better than the Redbox Bowl.

As will Iowa. The Hawkeyes are playing well on offense and have a top 5 defense. The only looming problem is injuries, which are piling up on the defensive side of the ball. If the Hawkeyes can take care of business the next two weeks and get healthy, they’ll be ranked for their matchup against the Penn State Nittany Lions. Depending on how Wisconsin fares against the Wolverines, Iowa’s game in State College may be their second chance at winning the Big Ten West, as the Badgers still have Penn State on the schedule. How crazy would it be if Iowa won the West because they beat Penn State while losing to Wisconsin and Wisconsin beat Iowa but lost to Penn State? Should that happen…the Citrus Bowl would be a low-end projection.

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