For the record, these bowl projections were assembled before this week’s controversy exploded in Columbus.

The thought here is that Penn State might be the most dangerous team in the Big Ten. The Nittany Lions have the league’s top returning passer in Trace McSorley. They have two of their top receivers coming back, Juwan Johnson and DeAndre Thompkins. Yes, there are questions about the defense, but which opposing quarterbacks look that scary?

Most of all, the schedule should make Happy Valley absolutely joyful. Pitt is the only remotely difficult nonconference game. More to the point, the Nittany Lions get Ohio State, Michigan State and Wisconsin at home. The toughest road test, and it’s a doozy, is Nov. 3 at Michigan.

And with the chaos going on at OSU surrounding Urban Meyer, the Buckeyes might be unnerved to the point where the Big Ten race gets blown wide open.

As of now, Ohio State — Meyer mess and all — still looks talented enough to at least make a New Year’s Day Six bowl. Either Michigan or Michigan State might well give the Big Ten a third team in the NYD6. After all, three B1G teams made major bowls last year and all three won. For now the Spartans get the nod for that third spot, highlighting a field of 11 league teams projected to make the postseason.

But the Big Ten badly needs to repair its reputation in the College Football Playoff. The league missed the playoff party altogether last season, and in the two seasons before that, Big Ten teams were shut out in their CFP semifinal appearances. Ohio State’s 2014 national title feels like a distant memory in the Midwest.

McSorley can add another chapter to his excellent career if he can push Penn State into the national championship picture and crash the SEC’s title party.

Bowl Game Matchup
CFP Semi (Cotton) Penn State vs. Georgia
Rose Bowl Ohio State vs. Washington
Peach Bowl Michigan State vs. Boise St.
Citrus Bowl Wisconsin vs. South Carolina
Outback Bowl Michigan vs. Missouri
TaxSlayer Bowl Iowa vs. Florida
Holiday Bowl Northwestern vs. USC
Foster Farms Bowl Purdue vs. Oregon
Pinstripe Bowl Nebraska vs. N.C. State
Quick Lane Bowl Maryland vs. Georgia Tech
Heart of Dallas Bowl Minnesota vs. Southern Miss