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POST WEEK THREE BOWL PROJECTIONS: HOTTY TODDY

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Notre Dame continues to win and Ohio State continues to look awful but...they're still #1.

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

For two straight weeks, the number one team in the nation has looked less than impressive. First, Ohio State only managed to score 17 points in the first three quarters against a Hawaii team that by all accounts doesn't even field a defense. Last week, they were actually losing to or tied with NIU for the first half before pulling away in the third quarter. In that same time frame, Michigan State has beaten a Pac-12 championship contender and dominated an Air Force team that will likely go bowling.

Admittedly, NIU is a good football team and probably better than Air Force but...Ohio State's offense looked hapless for the majority of the game and this is the number one team in the nation we're talking about here. I'm not quite ready to crown Michigan State as the new Big Ten favorite but if Ohio State doesn't show considerable improvement in the next couple of weeks I don't think there will be much choice.

Hey, cool story USC and Alabama. I guess you don't want to look like Playoff contenders. That's fine. Plenty of other candidates. Notre Dame continues to win despite the injuries that I thought would knock them out of any NY6 bowl game. While I doubt they finish the season undefeated, the impressive win over Georgia Tech makes me think that they can win 10 or more games. That should slot them in the Fiesta Bowl against the G5 winner, which should be Houston.

Ole Miss will take the SEC spot in the Playoff. Their schedule doesn't get difficult until late October when they take on Texas A&M, LSU and travel to Mississippi State. Auburn and Arkansas are also sandwiched in there, but they're trash so it's irrelevant. Georgia could also challenge for the throne, but this is Mark Richt we're talking about here so he's contractually obligated to not win anything other than the division.

All is quiet on the non-Playoff/NY6 Big Ten front. Iowa and Northwestern are halfway to bowl eligibility and so is...Indiana?! Yep. They managed to get by Western Kentucky and sit at 3-0. It would take a meltdown for Indiana to not win six games at this point.

Here are the teams that I think are better than Nebraska right now: Wisconsin, Minnesota, Northwestern and Michigan State (excluding Iowa as I can't be neutral). If the Huskers lose to those teams they'll finish the season 6-6. Mike Riley is the right man for the job.

How is Northwestern going to finish the season 6-6?! Stay tuned and find out!

Is Wisconsin actually any good or...

The Rules:

  • Four teams are chosen for the College Football Playoff.
  • Six bowls rotate for the semifinals: Rose, Sugar, Cotton, Fiesta, Orange, and Peach.
  • The bowls hosting the semifinals this year are the Cotton Bowl and Orange Bowl.
  • As the Rose Bowl is not hosting a semi-final, it will select the Big Ten Champion. However, if the Big Ten Champion is a playoff team, the Rose Bowl will select a Big Ten replacement.
  • The highest ranked champion from the Group of Five mid-majors (AAC, C-USA, MAC, MWC, Sun Belt) is guaranteed a spot in the non-playoff bowls if they fail to make the playoff.
  • The Big Ten has a six-year contract with the eight non-playoff bowl games (aside from the Pinstripe, which is an eight-year contract). Per the terms of that contract, the bowls are to select at least five different Big Ten schools over six years.
  • The non-playoff bowl games are informally broken down into three tiers. Tier 1: Holiday, Citrus and Outback. Tier 2: Pinstripe, Music City/TaxSlayer and Foster Farms. Tier 3: Quick Lane and Heart of Dallas/Armed Forces.
  • Over a six-year agreement, signed in 2013, the Big Ten and ACC must appear in three Music City and three TaxSlayer Bowls.
  • Over a six-year agreement, signed in 2013, the Big Ten and Big 12 must appear in three Heart of Dallas and three Armed Forces Bowls.

Bowl Projections:

Bowl
Date
Matchup
Last Year/Last 3 (B1G)

Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic
AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX

12/31/15

TCU (2) v. Ole Miss (3)

MSU v. Baylor

Capital One Orange Bowl
Sun Life Stadium, Miami, FL

12/31/15

Ohio State (1) v. UCLA (4)

Miss St. v. G-Tech

Allstate Sugar Bowl
Mercedes-Benz Superdome, NOLA

1/1/16

Baylor v. Georgia
Big 12 v. SEC

Ohio State v. Alabama

Rose Bowl Game
Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA

1/1/16

Michigan State v. USC
Big 10 v. Pac-12

MSU, UW, UW

Fiesta Bowl
U of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ

1/1/16

Notre Dame v. Houston
At-Large v. At-Large

Boise State v. Arizona

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
Georgia Dome, ATL, GA

12/31/15

Clemson v. Alabama
At-Large v. At-Large

Ole Miss v. TCU

Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl
Citrus Bowl, Orlando, FL

1/1/16

Wisconsin v. LSU
Big 10 v. SEC

MN, UW, NU

Outback Bowl
Raymond James, Tampa, FL

1/1/16

Minnesota v. Texas A&M
Big 10 v. SEC

UW, IA, UM

National University Holiday Bowl
Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA

12/30/15

Iowa v. Arizona
Big 10 v. Pac-12

NU

TaxSlayer/Music City Bowl
EverBank Field, Jacksonville, FL or
Nissan Stadium, Nashville, TN

1/2/16
12/30/15

Nebraska v. Missouri
Big 10/ACC v. SEC

IA, NU, NW*

Foster Farms Bowl
Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, CA

12/26/15

Michigan v. California
Big 10 v. Pac-12

MD

New Era Pinstripe Bowl
Yankee Stadium, NY, NY

12/26/15

Northwestern v. Va Tech
Big 10 v. ACC

PSU

Quick Lane Bowl
Ford Field, Detroit, MI

12/28/15

Penn State v. Pittsburgh
Big 10 v. ACC

RU

Heart of Dallas Bowl/ Armed Forces Bowl
Cotton Bowl, Dallas, TX or
AGC Stadium, Fort Worth, TX

12/26/15
12/29/15

Indiana v. Rice
Big 10/Big 12 v. C-USA

IL, PU, PSU**

* - Last 3 refers to appearances in the TaxSlayer Bowl.

** - Last 3 refers to appearances in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.