Sunday walk-through: Midseason bowl predictions
Michigan and Ohio State became the first Big Ten teams to gain their bowl eligibility Saturday with wins over Michigan State and Bowling Green. If both end up with BCS bids - a distinct possibility if Michigan wins at Penn State next week - the Big Ten will not have enough teams to fill its postseason allotment for the third straight year.
Iowa and Wisconsin, both 5-1, should reach the requisite six-win mark next week when they play Indiana and Minnesota, respectively. Penn State, with home games against Illinois and Temple still upcoming, is the only other conference team guaranteed a spot in the postseason.
After that, it gets tricky. Purdue (4-2) should reach a bowl game for the ninth time in Joe Tiller's 10 years, but the Boilermakers need seven wins because they play a 13th game at Hawaii.
Indiana and Michigan State are the only other Big Ten teams currently with three wins, and both would be considered postseason longshots. The Hoosiers don't have another guaranteed W on their schedule (their home games are Iowa, MSU and Michigan), and MSU is in the midst of a three-game slide that's destined to reach four this Saturday against OSU.
Illinois likely blew its chance at six wins with last week's loss to Indiana, Minnesota won get there unless it wins at Wisconsin this week, and Northwestern is far and away the worst team in the Big Ten.
About the only good news for whichever bottom-tier Big Ten teams falls into six wins is a trip to Tempe, Ariz., for the Insight Bowl (not Detroit and the Motor City Bowl) appears in the works.
As of Oct. 8, here's how I see the Big Ten's bowl allotment playing out:
BCS title game: Ohio State (12-0) Rose bowl: Michigan (11-1) Capital One: Iowa (10-2) Outback: Wisconsin (9-3) Alamo: Penn State (8-4) Champs Sports; Purdue (8-4) Insight: Michigan State (6-6) Motor City: No one from the Big Ten, but organizers have to be thrilled that Brian Kelly's Central Michigan team has a shot.
Punt, pass and kick Punt: Extra points have never been Jason Giannini's strong suit. The Minnesota kicker missed an amazing eight of the kicks last year, and he missed his second of this season Saturday (the first was blocked). Unfortunately for Giannini, that ended up being the deciding factor in Penn State's 28-27 overtime win.
Pass: Damian Sims ran for a career-best 155 yards on 20 carries in Iowa's 47-17 win over Purdue Saturday. Albert Young, who missed the game with a leg strain, is still the starter, but Sims (and sophomore Shonn Greene) give Iowa one of the deepest backfields in the Big Ten.
Kick: Michigan's best remaining chance at a loss before the Nov. 18 showdown with Ohio State comes next week at Penn State. Beaver Stadium will be rocking for the 8 p.m. kick, and the Nittany Lions have revenge on their minds after Michigan spoiled their season last year.