Wisconsin thundered forward in its quest for a piece of the Big Ten title and a Rose Bowl bid as they jumped out to a 24-0 lead on Michigan and rolled home 48-28. For a brief while it looked like the Badgers might be alone in first place, as Michigan State and Ohio State were both in serious trouble. But the Spartans rallied from fifteen points down to beat Purdue and the Buckeyes launched a late touchdown drive to nip Iowa 20-17. If all three win in next week's finales it comes down to BCS ranking, where Wisconsin held a narrow edge on Ohio State entering this week's games.
The Big 12 is going to be on center stage next week, with both divisions hanging in the balance and big games on both sides. Texas A&M edged Nebraska 9-6, while Oklahoma and Oklahoma State both won going away, meaning all three teams are alive in the Big 12 South. Texas A&M plays Texas on Thanksgiving night, with the Sooners-Cowboys on Saturday. In the North, the loss means the Cornhuskers now need to beat Colorado on Black Friday, and the Buffs have suddenly won two in a row since removing Dan Hawkins. All three games will get substantial attention in the Notebook next week.
The SEC & Pac-10 was mostly quiet, although LSU and Arkansas each had to avert scares to keep their hopes for BCS at-large bids on track. The Tigers and Hogs are another showcase game next Saturday. Out west, Stanford thumped Cal 48-7 and is another team angling for a major bowl spot at 10-1.
Here's how I'd project the BCS bowl matchups coming into today. As has been the case the last three weeks, I'm picking Alabama to beat Auburn this coming Friday. There's no change in my projections, although the one thing I keep debating over is whether the Rose would opt for Boise over Stanford in the interests of fulfilling an obscure contractual requirement where they have to take a non-automatic qualifier in a four-year window. However I also believe that requirement is waived if a non-AQ plays for the national title, as I am projecting here.
BCS National Championship: Oregon vs. TCU
Rose: Stanford vs. Wisconsin
Sugar: Auburn vs. Boise State
Orange: Alabama vs. Virginia Tech
Fiesta: Nebraska vs. Pitt
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Dan Flaherty is the editor of the Sports Notebook Family, published through the Real Clear Sports Blog Network, offering daily commentary in college football ,game analysis in the NFL. and coverage of college basketball. He is the author of The Last New Year's, a book that revisits the historic high points of college football's New Year's Day bowl games.