2016 has been a banner year for the Big Ten and, if one projection comes to fruition, the conference will have bragging rights over every competitor. In his bowl projections this week, Jerry Palm of CBS Sports includes a staggering four teams from the Big Ten among the 12 programs selected to play in New Year’s Six games.
While Ohio State (College Football Playoff) and Michigan (Rose Bowl) seem like extremely logical inclusions, skeptics of the conference will undoubtedly point to Wisconsin (Orange Bowl) and Penn State (Cotton Bowl) as stretches when it comes to this high perch. Still, the Badgers land at No. 7 in both the AP and Coaches polls this week and, given that Wisconsin has only lost to OSU and Michigan, it seems quite conceivable that the committee will respect their profile.
As for Penn State, the jury remains out on James Franklin’s team, but this would easily be their best showing in his tenure. The Nittany Lions have a lopsided loss to Michigan and a close-fought decision against Pittsburgh on the negative side, but Penn State’s win over Ohio State looms large and, perhaps more importantly, the team will be favored in each of its remaining games against Indiana, Rutgers and Michigan State.
If the Nittany Lions and Badgers can both win out to finish at 10-2, it seems highly possible that both could be playing in high-profile bowl games, but fans of the SEC, ACC, Big 12 and Pac-12 can’t possibly like to this type of potential domination from one conference. Stay tuned.