B1G bowl projections, Week 9: CFP! CFP! CFP!
Oklahoma’s loss is the Big Ten’s gain.
There was an open question about whether the College Football Playoff committee, when it releases its first set of rankings, would favor unbeaten Oklahoma over unbeaten Ohio State — or Penn State, if the Nittany Lions beat the Buckeyes. Or even Minnesota if the Golden Gophers were to complete their Cinderella story, stay perfect and beat one of those other two teams for the B1G title.
Now the league, which has missed the Playoff the past two years, very much controls its fate.
Yes, Baylor of the Big 12 is still undefeated, and if the Bears want to run the table they probably will have to beat the Sooners twice. So the Waco Kids have to be dealt with. But Oklahoma was the big dog in the Big 12 and the Sooners lost their place with their defeat on Saturday at unranked Kansas State.
But even if Clemson and one of the two unbeaten SEC teams, LSU and Alabama, remain perfect, there should be nobody to stand in the way of an undefeated Big Ten champion, whichever team that might be.
At the moment we are projecting Ohio State to be that team.
No surprise, really. Nobody has come within 24 points of beating the Buckeyes this season. If OSU navigates Maryland and Rutgers in the next two games, it would set up a B1G East division title showdown against Penn State on Nov. 23. And OSU gets that one in Columbus. There is a lot of football left to be played so lots of things could mangle these scenarios.
As for the middle of the B1G pack, it seems Indiana went from an afterthought to bowl eligibility in the blink of an eye. The 6-2 Hoosiers, winners of 3 in a row including back-to-back road victories, are bound for the postseason and if they can pull off an upset, a very special 10-win season (including a bowl) is possible.
And Illinois joins our projections this week after soundly defeating Purdue, keeping the Fighting Illini in bowl contention a week after their stunning win over Wisconsin.
Now, on to our B1G bowl projections, in the conference’s approximate bowl selection order: