B1G bowl projections after Week 6: Complicated picture
This week, the Big Ten bowl projections are about loss.
Yes, there is the normal shuffling expected when a team is upset on the field, such as Northwestern. The Wildcats drop out of our New Year’s Day 6 projections after their defeat against Michigan State; Indiana slides into the Fiesta Bowl in NU’s place.
But much more, this is about the impact, yet again, that COVID-19 has had on the 2020 season.
Two B1G games were canceled over the weekend — Ohio State-Illinois and Minnesota-Wisconsin — because of rising coronavirus cases. That left Wisconsin ineligible for the B1G title game because the Badgers won’t play enough games; the Buckeyes are in danger of following suit.
Then on Friday came another loss: The Pinstripe Bowl. The bowl was canceled for 2020, leaving the B1G without 2 of its contracted tie-ins along with the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit. In a season where there is no minimum standard for wins to reach a bowl (or at least, the NCAA waived the formal requirement), it’s worth wondering how many B1G teams with losing records might reach a bowl.
So many things are unsettled, it’s tough to say how many B1G teams will go bowling. Contracted tie-ins and TV money will be big factors, but, in all honesty, would the brand names associated with programs such as Penn State and Michigan be enough to garner postseason invites in a year when both teams are lousy? Put it another way: Would a matchup of, say, 2-6 Michigan vs. 3-6 LSU draw enough ratings to justify having 2 such undeserving teams play in late December just because they’re big names?
Here are the latest B1G bowl projections: