Wisconsin Football: Breaking Down the Badgers' Bowl Picture

Sam OlesonCorrespondent IOctober 18, 2010

Wisconsin Football: Breaking Down the Badgers' Bowl Picture

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    Following Wisconsin's most important win as a program since maybe the 2000 Rose Bowl, Madison could be the most excited college sports town in all of America.

    Not only did the Badgers regain their swagger, but they are right back in the thick of the Big Ten race. At 2-1 in the conference, anything is possible for Wisconsin at this point.

    If they had fallen to 1-2, the picture would be a lot more bleak.

    That said, beating Ohio State doesn't ensure a good bowl game to end the year. Wisconsin still must travel to Iowa City this weekend to play an Iowa squad just as capable of winning the Big Ten as they are.

    Then, the Badgers have to go to Purdue, play Indiana at home and travel to the dreaded Michigan Stadium before closing out the year against Northwestern in Camp Randall.

    So no, the road doesn't get a whole lot smoother for Wisconsin. They are going to need to play well.

    But at 6-1, the Badgers are in a good position to earn another January bowl game.

    Here are their chances at some of those games.

Rose Bowl

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    Simply put, if Wisconsin wants to return to Pasadena for the first time in a decade, they need to win out. There's simply no wiggle room here.


    Because if the Badgers are playing in the Rose Bowl, that means they won the Big Ten.

    At 2-1 in the conference, it's still certainly possible to do that, but the Badgers cannot afford another loss. Even if they do win out and finish the year at 7-1, it's still not a guarantee that they are going to the "Granddaddy of Them All."

    At 3-0 in the conference, Michigan State would not only need to lose for Wisconsin to have any shot, but the Spartans would actually have to stumble twice for the Badgers to earn the Rose Bowl bid.

    Because MSU owns the tiebreaker over Wisconsin, the Spartans would actually have to finish second in the conference for the Badgers to earn the bid.

    So, not only would the Badgers need to go undefeated the rest of the way (certainly anything but a guarantee), but they'd also need some help.

    Possible, but not probable.

    Chances: Slim

At-Large BCS Bowl

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    Although getting to the Rose Bowl seems like a long shot, earning an at-large bid to a different BCS bowl is a completely different story.

    Yes, Wisconsin would still likely have to go undefeated to earn that shot, but they control its own destiny in this situation.

    No, going 11-1 doesn't necessarily guarantee a BCS bid, but playing in the Big Ten makes it much more likely. The BCS bowl committees tend to favor Big Ten teams because of TV ratings and because the schools typically draw large crowds.

    If Wisconsin wins out and there isn't an abnormally large number of undefeated or one-loss teams in the race, it would be hard to picture the Badgers being left out.

    That said, they have to win out, which means they have to beat Iowa and Michigan on the road.

    Chances: Possible, but unlikely

Capital One Bowl

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    Now, even if the Badgers do go undefeated the rest of the year, it's still possible they could end up in Orlando for the Capital One Bowl.

    Unlikely, but possible.

    The scenario I envision here is a two-loss Badger squad in this non-BCS, but highly-respected bowl game.

    However, it's still possible that even with only two losses, the Badgers could get bumped from this game.

    If Wisconsin loses to Iowa next weekend and then the Hawkeyes lose to Ohio State, Iowa would not only hold the tiebreaker over Wisconsin, but the overall conference record as well.

    However, if Iowa beats Ohio State and the Badgers and Buckeyes end the year with the same record, Wisconsin would likely earn the spot because it owns the head-to-head matchup.

    Remember last year when Northwestern ousted Wisconsin for the Outback Bowl spot despite a worse record? Head-to-heads do count.

    Then of course, Michigan State could stumble once or twice and completely throw a wrench in this projection.

    But, as of right now, the Capital One Bowl looks like a feasible bowl destination for the Badgers.

    Chances: Decent

Outback Bowl

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    Of course, a two-loss Badgers team could also be headed to the Outback Bowl in Tampa.

    Another prestigious non-BCS bowl, the Outback Bowl would pit the Badgers against an SEC foe just like the Capital One Bowl would.

    As of right now, unless Wisconsin does manage to go undefeated the rest of the year, the Outback Bowl may be its destination.

    According to ESPN.com's Mark Schlabach and Andrea Adelson, the two Florida bowl games will probably feature Ohio State and Wisconsin. At this point, it's just a toss-up over which team will be chosen for which bowl.

    Unless the Badgers lose multiple times over the next five games, it seems likely they'll be headed to one of these four bowl games.

    Chances: Decent