SjT: Bowling 11/8 - Updated

Well, another week and another round of shakeup in the bowl picture as the "new" Big Three continues to separate itself from the pack ... sort of.

* OHIO STATE may have run it up for the BCS scouts, but it wasn't the typical Bucknut rout in Evanston as the Wildcats racked up a lot of yards and played some tough D early. Hopefully they gained some confidence from the game because they'll need it next week ...

* MICHIGAN looked like they finally realized they were supposed to be good and looked solid in routing the Gophers. For Minny, it's a devastating blow that could start snowballing with the NU loss into a bad finish if they're not careful next week ...

* WISCONSIN woke up from their slumber and can solidify their bowl hopes next week by continuing the Gophers' slide.

* As for MSU, it's a new era where they finish the year strong and now have an extra week to prepare for a big one in Happy Valley.

* ILLINOIS ... wow. That loss hurts.

* PENN STATE had its hands full with the Hawkeyes, and LOST...

Ugh, those pesky bumblebees (well, makes our win in Iowa City look a heck of a lot better to overshadow how our loss in Bloomington looks pathetic now). They may have cost the Big Ten a second BCS berth!
So where's that leave the the redst of the bowl picture?
We'll know more after today's late games, but it looks like ...

- PSU loses today, so there may not be two BCS teams. Even if MSU upsets the Nits at the end of the year and wins the automatic bid, an 10-2 JoePa is still an attractive at-large team (or a 10-2 OSU).

I guess it's all going to come down to whether the Sugar Bowl can ignore Boise State and take Ohio State instead. Certainly they'd bring bigger ratings and more fans. It's hard to imagine two BCS busters making it. Of course, Oregon State winning out would muck things up more. BC-MESS! YES! Go Beavers!!! Could SC get into the title game without being Rose Bowl eligible? That would send SEC fans into a tizzy!

I still think we get two, as Bama vs. OSU in the Sugar Bowl sounds a lot better than Boise State vs. Alabama. That leaves MSU for the Citrus and probably the Iowa/Minny winner for the Outback. The big question for NU is probably whether the loser gets the Alamo or if we do.

And now John Saunders and his ilk can keep their pants on and quit hyperventilating about an unbeaten Big Ten team getting in the title game over a "clearly" better Florida or Oklahoma. Tough loss for JoePa, but they had their chances.

So let's just jp[e one of the "new Big Three" of PSU, OSU and MSU are headed to a spot in the BCS, Orlando and another New Year's bowl.
Then it gets tricky ...
The last January 1 spot appears to be between Minnesota and Northwestern, and today's losses hurt the Gophers more than the Cats.

- MINNY falls to 7-3 and could be 7-4 after Camp Randall next week with a must-win against Iowa to salvage a strong start.
- NORTHWESTERN falls to 7-3 and has a dangerous road game in Ann Arbor next week ... they too could be facing their rival (Illinois) at home with a 7-4 mark and a must-win for Tampa.

I'm still hoping we can win out and Iowa slips up in Minneapolis so we can have a "Nerd Bowl" in Tampa vs. Vanderbilt!
But it's still better for the Gophers and Cats than for ...
- WISCONSIN: Assume a win against Cal Poly, so that's 6-5 with next week's Axe game the difference betweem 7-5 and 6-6, or in bowl terms, Orlando and Detroit. That's a big difference!:)
- IOWA: Assuming a loss today and a win against Purdue at home, they too will be 6-5 heading into that final game in the Humpdome.
- ILLINOIS: A loss today was big, because they'll likely lose to OSU next week and then be 5-6, needing a win at NU to get to six wins.

Wisky could sneak up into San Antonio if they win out and Iowa beats Minnesota as well, and the Hawkeyes could still do a lot if they beat PSU or fall fast if they slip to Purdue. But the Illini really have a tough climb. You wonder if they'll feel like playing for a return to Detroit when they come to Evanston in two weeks (hopefully not).


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