Big Ten play is done for this week, so lets look at the bowl outlook.
First the standings (from Bigten.org)
|11 Michigan State||6-1||201||150||4-0||2-1||10-1||348||219||7-0||3-1||2-1|
|8 Ohio State||6-1||236||98||3-0||3-1||10-1||436||153||7-0||3-1||1-1|
First, we eliminate the non-qualifier teams for bowl games based on already having 7 losses overall. These are Purdue, Minnesota, and Indiana.
So the bowl placement standings (based on overall record w/ conf standings in parenthesis) are:
Wisconsin, 10-1 (6-1), tiebreaker with best BCS ranking
Ohio St, 10-1 (6-1), higher BCS than MSU
Mich St, 10-1 (6-1)
Iowa, 7-4 (4-3)
Penn St, 7-4 (4-3)
Northwestern, 7-4 (3-4)
Michigan, 7-4 (3-4)
Illinois, 6-5 (4-4)
The only remaining question with one week of play left is how many BCS teams the Big Ten is going to get... I'm going to analyze that tomorrow when the BCS standings are released. For this, I'm going to go on the current standings and expect that next week, Wisconsin, Ohio St, Michigan St, & Iowa are going to win (favorites). We'll also assume Illinois will beat Fresno St on the road. That would mean we would have standings that would look like this:
1) Wisconsin, 11-1 (Rose Bowl, BCS autobid as highest BCS team in 3-way tie)
Ohio St, 11-1 (BCS at-large, Sugar or Orange Bowl)
Michigan St, 11-1
2) Iowa, 8-4
3) Penn St 7-5
For the bowls, I'll go in order of selection:
Capitol One Bowl
First pick after BCS Bowls. MICHIGAN STATE. This one is easy as Michigan St is the co-champ and can't be by-passed by anyother Big Ten teams for this slot. Looking at playing the top SEC that doesn't make a BCS game, so likely LSU, or So Carolina, but if the Cocks get pasted in the SEC championship, Bama may slide in here.
Big ten #3. IOWA. Iowa being all alone in 4th place and a good traveling team makes this an easy pick as well. Hawkeyes will play the SEC 3/4/5 team, so probably Arkansas or Alabama.
Big Ten #4/5. Probably PENN ST. JoePa factor, they beat us head to head, travelling following is about equal with Michigan or maybe slightly ahead. I'll say Penn St slots above us in bowl selections. The Nittany Lions will play the SEC, probably the #6 team, so Florida or Miss St.
Big Ten #4/5. Probably MICHIGAN. When compared with the remaining selections available (NW, Illinois) we win most comparisons that matter to bowl committtees. We won head to head against Illinois, are a more "exciting" team (especially with a record setting and probable Heisman finalist Denard Robinson), and travel well to warm locations. Tempe ain't Boise so we'll probably do fairly well along with being our first bowl game in 3 years. We'll play the Big 12 #6, right now looking like Kansas St, Baylor, or Texas Tech.
Big Ten #6. ILLINOIS. Illini are a shoo-in over Northwestern now as long as they get to 7 wins, and may be a higher selection at 6 wins. It's another Big 12 opponent, so the lower of the Kansas St / Baylor / Texas Tech triumverate.
Ticket City Bowl
Big Ten #7 NORTHWESTERN. Last remaining slot for a Big Ten team that's bowl eligible (thanks Purdue!). Some confusion here as the Ticketcity Bowl website says that since its the newest bowl it has to defer its selection until all the other established bowls have selected, which by my reading would mean the Little Cesar Bowl gets the last Big Ten eligible team if there's not enough, but I could be wrong as the TCB site also says that the Big Ten is the anchor conference for the first four years... So we'll assume the Big Ten #7 goes here and plays a Big 12 team if they have enough (and it looks like they do), the last of the KSt/Baylor/Tex Tc grouping.
If-I-Have-To Projected Matchups:
Rose Bowl: Wiscy v. TCU or Boise St
Sugar Bowl: LSU v. Ohio St
Capitol One: Mich St v. South Carolina
Gator: Iowa vs. Alabama
Insight: Michigan v. K St
Texas Bowl: Illinois v. Baylor
TicketCity Bowl: Northwestern v. Texas Tech
I would say if this is the case, Big Ten is favored in Capitol One, Insight, & Texas Bowls, being underdogs in most others. But who cares? We're back in and have a winnable bowl game ahead of us....
Barring major upsets next week, this is pretty static. The only changes would occur if the Big Ten only gets one BCS team (Say Stanford and an undefeated Bosie/TCU get at-larges ahead of Ohio St or Mich St).. that happens and move everybody down one slot with Northwestern going to the Little Cesar Pizza Bowl, meaning we'd end up in the Texas Bowl, which, eh, could do worse considering the Texas Bowl is one day later than the Insight Bowl (Wed vice Tue night), Houston vice Tempe, and 6p kickoff vice 10p.
Coming into this game almost every single analysis nationally and on the board suggested it would be critical for us to slow down Wisconsin's potent running attack to have a chance to win. Wisconsin has been a heavy package running team for as long as I can remember and this year is no different so this was no surprise.
Wisconsin then proceeded to run the ball 32 out of 33 times in the second half of today's game. As I sat in the stadium it occurred to me that if a running play was "heads" and a passing play was "tails" then the Badger's play calling went something like this: heads, heads, tails, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads and then heads.
And yet it seemed to me (and admittedly I haven't watched the game on DVR yet) that our D wasn't selling out to stop the run. How is this humanly possible given that every man, woman and child watching the game could see the pattern developing and know what was coming next?
Can somebody help me here? Were we in fact surprised by the repeated "heads" call by Wisconsin or were we just powerless to stop them?
I see a lot of RichRod's detractors saying that we should fire him and hire Harbaugh, but are there strong reasons to believe that he would come here?
Not sure how many people have been to Palo Alto, but a friend of mine taught there for a while and I can tell you. . . it is one beautiful, warm place. They probably have the money to match us, and the pressure on Harbaugh is relatively light there. (Coming from a small private school he only has to be good, not win regular championships.) I'm not saying that he wouldn't be interested, but I don't see it as a gimme.
It may well be, for that matter, that Brandon has some real knowledge about Harbaugh's interest. . . I'm not opposed to his coming, btw, should RichRod be dismissed, though I don't think a Michigan pedigree should be the deciding factor. Maybe having one of Bo's boys makes some alumni feel warm and fuzzy, but it doesn't necessarily win football games.
So much for that guy you knew of for one day and will promptly forget about entirely, he's committed to SMU. He hadn't yet been offered, but was visiting for the Big Chill weekend. The article doesn't mention whether or not that visit is still on. I don't think anyone will take this particularly hard, Blake Countess come on down!
I could be wrong, but the message I'm getting from several recent Dave Brandon interviews is that RichRod has done enough to merit another year. Is anyone getting the same idea, reading between the lines?
My hunch is that this has been communicated to the players, too, because I don't see how we get the likes of Dee Hart if it's not pretty clear that RichRod is staying. Mind you, I'm the guy who said we would go 6-6 and RichRod would be retained, anyway--for many of the reasons I think that now: too much invested in putting together a RichRod-style offense, too much evidence next year will be lots better. So maybe I'm looking at this with Rose Bowl-colored glasses? Anyway, the Brandon interviews are here, in Wojo's latest in the DetNews and a very good interview on the Huge Show: