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2011 Bowl Projections: Illinois' Bowl Stock Sliding

Illinois is bowl-eligible but sliding down the pecking order in the Big Ten, while Northwestern has plenty of work to do in order to earn a bowl bid.

Ron Zook's Fighting Illini have lost three straight games--by a grand total of 20 points--and they've been slipping down the bowl pecking order in the Big Ten as a result. In the latest bowl projections from ESPN, Mark Schlabach predicts the Illini will play in the Ticket City Bowl against Southern Methodist. Schlabach's colleague, Brad Edwards, placed Illinois in the Little Caezar's Pizza Bowl against Northern Illinois.

ESPN's Big Ten bloggers, Brian Bennett and Adam Rittenberg, project that the Illini will land in the Meineke Care Care Bowl of Texas.

There's still plenty of time for the Illini to improve their postseason prospects, though the schedule doesn't get any easier: Michigan and Wisconsin are up next.

Northwestern got its first Big Ten win of the season Saturday at Indiana, but the Wildcats are still outside the bowl picture as projected by ESPN's analysts. Bowl eligibility remains a mathematical possibility, though the Wildcats have to find a way to beat Nebraska or Michigan State to get there.

For in-depth coverage of the Fighting Illini, visit Hail to the Orange; for in-depth coverage of the Northwestern Wildcats, visit Sippin' On Purple. For more news and notes from around college football, including the 2011 college football bowl schedule, head over to SB Nation NCAA Football.