SjT goes Bowling

The picture got a little more clear today in the Big Ten bowl picture. <b>Purdue</b> and <b>Minnesota</b> continued to crash and burn in late-season slides, while <b>Iowa</b> continued to show why Kirk Ferentz is the best coach in the league with their late surge.

Two weeks to go and a lot can happen, but a brief breakdown ...

* INDIANA blew it. They had a chance to beat winless (conference-wise) Illinois and PSU to get to 5-5 and play rival (and reeling) Purdue for a bowl berth in the Ole Bucket ame. But a collapse at Illinois (blowing a 19-7 first quarter lead) means the Hoosiers will make it a decade of Christmases at home for the football team. Now all they can play for is to beat PSU next week and avoid a three-way tie at the bottom of the league.

* MICHIGAN STATE needs to run the table. If they beat Wisconsin at home next week, their remaining to road games at PSU and Hawaii are winnable ... but the way the Badgers have been playing lately and with Stanton out, the odds appear to be stacked against the green and white, despite a heck of a coaching job by John L. Smith this year (better than his recognized work last year, IMO).

* NORTHWESTERN has a small safety net, but it's only a one-game cushion. We gotta win 2 of 3, and seeing how we visit league leader Michigan next weekend, it's likely we'll need to beat the Illini at home and Hawaii on the road. It's not gonna be easy, but it is doable. Of course, a win in the Big House on ABC next week with NUMB in attendance would help the outlook more. Still, no matter what the outcome, bowl position and a winning season in Big Ten play will be on the line for the home finale in two weeks. Hopefully, that brings out a big crowd for these seniors.

* PURDUE needs to win one of two at home. They host the improving Buckeyes and the Hoosiers. They should get at least one of those to go bowling again, but the outlook is still in doubt after they followed up that #5 national ranking with four straight close losses. Can they get their confidence back?

* MICHIGAN, WISCONSIN, IOWA, MINNESOTA and OHIO STATE are in ... though the Buckeyes and especially Gophers can thank their lucky stars that they had a 3-0 non conference run, or else they'd be sweating it right now.
As for who will go where ...
If NU manages to beat Illinois and Hawaii, they'll finish no worse than fourth in the league and could be tied for third if Iowa drops games at Minnesota and at home against Wisconsin. I know we're not he biggest draw in the league, but you'd think a 5-3 team in fourth wouldn't slip all the way down to the seventh bowl. With that in mind, a somewhat educated guess ...

ROSE: Wisconsin vs. California
-- I'll listen to all those west-folk Cats who say that the Bears are headed to Pasadena. I don't think they deserve a BCS bid (got to see them luck out a win vs. Oregon today and they haven't beaten a top 20 team) and still think that since Wisconsin will bring 70,000+ to the stadium, they may use the Rose to dump off one of the hard sells of BCS berths like West Virginia or perhaps Utah (especially if the Badgers and Utes are the only unbeatens left not invited to Miami).

But for now, we'll say Cal. Though I was intrigued by the idea raised during ABC's game today of a "Big Ten Championship" in Pasadena between 11-0 Wisconsin and 10-1 Michigan, as both teams are looking better each week and it'd be a heck of a game.

CITRUS: Michigan vs. Georgia -- If Utah and Cal take the open BCS spots, then this could be called the "Screwed by the BCS bowl" ... especially since Georgia, if they win at Auburn, could be the highest ranked SEC team and not even play for the BCS bid in the title game. But it'd be a heck of a game.

OUTBACK: Iowa vs. Tennessee
-- Here's where things get shaky, as the Buckeyes could still sneak in here by name/rep if Iowa loses badly to Wisconsin in the finale or drops games to Minny and Wisky. But if Iowa splits and plays solid vs. the Badgers, they'll be 6-2 in league play only losing to the two co-champs and in the top 20 or so.

ALAMO: Ohio State vs. Oklahoma State
-- OSU vs. OSU? The winner of the Purdue/OSU game in West Lafayette next week probably goes here, even if we're the 4th place team, because of bigger name and alumni base. The Buckeyes are playing well lately and might even give Michigan a scare in the 'Shoe, making them the choice for San Antonio. As for their foe, if OSU keeps winning big in Austin, it might be ATM here and a Sugar Bowl rematch from a few years back.

SUN: Purdue vs. Arizona State -- Purdue and OSU could swap, but I still think both are ahead of us in the bowls ... here you could hype the Orton vs. Walter showdown. If Cal gets an extra BCS bid, the Pac 10 moves up a bit and the Big Ten bid could depend on whether ASU or UCLA/Oregon goes to San Diego ... because if it's ASU, I'm not sure they'd want an NU/ASU rematch (even if some fans would:) ).

MUSIC CITY: Northwestern vs. South Carolina
-- I wonder if Lou will remember our coach's name this time?:) If we win 2 of 3 and finish in fourth place, I think we slip here instead of down to Motor City. Yeah, Minny beat us, but they'd be 3-5 in league play and we'd be 5-3, with a better finish. Plus, we were in Detroit last year and I think we'd get a good showing of NU fans in Nashville. As for our foe ... if Auburn goes BCS, UGa to Orlando and Tennessee to Tampa, that leaves LSU for Dallas and Florida for Atlanta giving us whoever's left standing from the rugged SEC. Most likely Lou.

MOTOR CITY: Minnesota vs. Northern Illinois
-- Both Toledo (to avoid a rematch with Minny) and NIU (a regional rivalry) here could drop the Cats to Detroit again ... but I just don't think a 5-3 team finishing fourth and strong drops below a 3-5 team on a big skid. But we'll see. The folks in Detroit would probably prefer MSU to run the table and get in here, but it's gonna be tough.

Just speculation at this point, and we still gotta win 2 of 3 and our rivals from Illinois and the trappings of a trip to Hawaii won't be easy ... but still, it's fun to be able to speculate as we prepare for the second week in November.

GO CATS!!! BEAT MICHIGAN!!!

-SjT

Stephen J. Truog has his own NU oriented Web Site
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* blew it. They had a chance to beat winless (conference-wise) Illinois and PSU to get to 5-5 and play rival (and reeling) Purdue for a bowl berth in the Ole Bucket ame. But a collapse at Illinois (blowing a 19-7 first quarter lead) means the Hoosiers will make it a decade of Christmases at home for the football team. Now all they can play for is to beat PSU next week and avoid a three-way tie at the bottom of the league.

* needs to run the table. If they beat Wisconsin at home next week, their remaining to road games at PSU and Hawaii are winnable ... but the way the Badgers have been playing lately and with Stanton out, the odds appear to be stacked against the green and white, despite a heck of a coaching job by John L. Smith this year (better than his recognized work last year, IMO).

* has a small safety net, but it's only a one-game cushion. We gotta win 2 of 3, and seeing how we visit league leader Michigan next weekend, it's likely we'll need to beat the Illini at home and Hawaii on the road. It's not gonna be easy, but it is doable. Of course, a win in the Big House on ABC next week with NUMB in attendance would help the outlook more. Still, no matter what the outcome, bowl position and a winning season in Big Ten play will be on the line for the home finale in two weeks. Hopefully, that brings out a big crowd for these seniors.

* needs to win one of two at home. They host the improving Buckeyes and the Hoosiers. They should get at least one of those to go bowling again, but the outlook is still in doubt after they followed up that #5 national ranking with four straight close losses. Can they get their confidence back?

* and are in ... though the Buckeyes and especially Gophers can thank their lucky stars that they had a 3-0 non conference run, or else they'd be sweating it right now.

If NU manages to beat and they'll finish no worse than fourth in the league and could be tied for third if Iowa drops games at Minnesota and at home against Wisconsin. I know we're not he biggest draw in the league, but you'd think a 5-3 team in fourth wouldn't slip all the way down to the seventh bowl. With that in mind, a somewhat educated guess ...
-- I'll listen to all those west-folk Cats who say that the Bears are headed to Pasadena. I don't think they deserve a BCS bid (got to see them luck out a win vs. Oregon today and they haven't beaten a top 20 team) and still think that since Wisconsin will bring 70,000+ to the stadium, they may use the Rose to dump off one of the hard sells of BCS berths like West Virginia or perhaps Utah (especially if the Badgers and Utes are the only unbeatens left not invited to Miami).

But for now, we'll say Cal. Though I was intrigued by the idea raised during ABC's game today of a \"Big Ten Championship\" in Pasadena between 11-0 and 10-1 , as both teams are looking better each week and it'd be a heck of a game.

-- If Utah and Cal take the open BCS spots, then this could be called the \"Screwed by the BCS bowl\" ... especially since Georgia, if they win at Auburn, could be the highest ranked SEC team and not even play for the BCS bid in the title game. But it'd be a heck of a game.
-- Here's where things get shaky, as the could still sneak in here by name/rep if loses badly to in the finale or drops games to Minny and Wisky. But if splits and plays solid vs. the Badgers, they'll be 6-2 in league play only losing to the two co-champs and in the top 20 or so.
-- vs. ? The winner of the P game in West Lafayette next week probably goes here, even if we're the 4th place team, because of bigger name and alumni base. The Buckeyes are playing well lately and might even give a scare in the 'Shoe, making them the choice for San Antonio. As for their foe, if keeps winning big in Austin, it might be ATM here and a Sugar Bowl rematch from a few years back.

-- and could swap, but I still think both are ahead of us in the bowls ... here you could hype the Orton vs. Walter showdown. If Cal gets an extra BCS bid, the Pac 10 moves up a bit and the Big Ten bid could depend on whether ASU or UCLA/Oregon goes to San Diego ... because if it's ASU, I'm not sure they'd want an NU/ASU rematch (even if some fans would:) ).
-- I wonder if Lou will remember our coach's name this time?:) If we win 2 of 3 and finish in fourth place, I think we slip here instead of down to Motor City. Yeah, Minny beat us, but they'd be 3-5 in league play and we'd be 5-3, with a better finish. Plus, we were in Detroit last year and I think we'd get a good showing of NU fans in Nashville. As for our foe ... if Auburn goes BCS, UGa to Orlando and Tennessee to Tampa, that leaves LSU for Dallas and Florida for Atlanta giving us whoever's left standing from the rugged SEC. Most likely Lou.
-- Both Toledo (to avoid a rematch with Minny) and NIU (a regional rivalry) here could drop the Cats to Detroit again ... but I just don't think a 5-3 team finishing fourth and strong drops below a 3-5 team on a big skid. But we'll see. The folks in Detroit would probably prefer MSU to run the table and get in here, but it's gonna be tough.

Just speculation at this point, and we still gotta win 2 of 3 and our rivals from and the trappings of a trip to won't be easy ... but still, it's fun to be able to speculate as we prepare for the second week in November.

-SjT
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