Here’s a look at who each of the contenders has left on the schedule:
Michigan: at Mich St., Minn, at Wisc, Ohio St., W. Mich
Illinois: at Purdue, Penn St., at Ohio St., NWtrn
Purdue: Illinois, at Ohio St., Mich St., at Indiana, ND
Michigan State: Michigan, Indiana, at Purdue, Penn St., Missouri
Ohio State: at Minnesota, Purdue, Illinois, at Michigan
Here is what would have to happen for each team to capture the Conference Title:
Michigan: The Wolverines have already beaten Illinois and Purdue, their two closest competitors right now. If they can beat MSU this weekend, they will probably win the Big Ten. As long as they win out, they have nothing to worry about. And even if they don’t, as I said, they hold the tiebreaker over Purdue and Illinois.
Illinois: The Illini have to have a Michigan loss to have a shot at the Big Ten title. Even in a two-way tie with Michigan, they would lose the tiebreaker. Their only hope to win the tie would be to have a three-way tie (or more). Michigan’s best chance for a loss comes against either MSU this weekend or at Wisconsin. Ohio State could provide a challenge. The Illini play Purdue this weekend, and then OSU later. They do not play Michigan State. Therefore, if there was a three-way tie, it would have to be with 3 2-loss teams since Pur and Ill play each other and they already have 1 loss each.
Purdue: Purdue, like Illinois, has lost only to Michigan. They have three big games left: Illinois, at Ohio State, and Michigan State. They will probably need to win out to have any shot at the Big Ten title. Purdue and Illinois are also very similar in that they will need a 3-way tie with teams with 2 losses to win the tiebreaker for the title.
Michigan State and Ohio State:To put in plainly, these teams need a lot of extremely good things to happen to win the Big Ten. MSU still has to play Michigan and Purdue. They do not play Illinois or Ohio State. OSU still must play Purdue, Illinois, and Michigan. Obviously, both of these teams will need to win out and hope that Michigan, Illinois, and Purdue end up with two losses each. For either of these two teams to come out on top, there would probably have to be a 3(or more)-way tie.
Summing it up:
Michigan controls their own destiny, and honestly, should win they Big Ten. They have as easy of a schedule as any of their closest competitors. The Wolverines also could climb in the BCS Standings if the rights things happen outside the Big Ten and contend for a Rose Bowl bid.
The Mad Dash for the Bowl Games
The Teams with a shot (with their remaining games):
--Michigan: (4-0, 6-1) at Mich St., Minn, at Wisc, Ohio St.
--Illinois: (3-1, 6-1) at Purdue, Penn St., at Ohio St., NWtrn
--Purdue: (3-1, 5-1) Illinois, at Ohio St., Mich St., at Ind, ND
--Michigan State: (2-2, 4-2) Michigan, Indiana, at Purdue, Penn St., MO
--Ohio State: (2-2, 4-3) at Minn, Purdue, Illinois, at Michigan
--Iowa: (2-3, 4-3) at Wisc, at NWtrn, Minn, at IA State
--Northwestern: (2-3, 4-3) at Indiana, Iowa, BowlGreen, at Illinois
--Wisconsin (2-3, 4-5) Iowa, Michigan, at Minn
Here’s what needs to happen for each of these teams:
Michigan: They’re in. The more they win, the better bowl they get. If they win the Big Ten, they’re in the BCS. If the right things happen around the country, they could play for the National Championship.
Illinois: They’re in a bowl also. And, like Michigan, they are playing for a better bowl. If they win out, they have a slight chance at being an at-large BCS team. Their schedule is probably too tough for that though. Look for the Illini to play well for the rest of the season and play in a good bowl.
Purdue: The Boilers all but have a bowl game locked up. With the strength of schedule they have left though, they should definitely expect nothing more than a 9-2 record. Even an 8-3 season would be good for the first post-Brees season and put Purdue in a good bowl game.
Michigan State: The Spartans have 3 very winnable games left on the schedule, plus two tough ones. They should easily get 6 wins, and a 7-4 record. More than that would be great for MSU.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes must go 2-2 in their final 4 games to become bowl eligible, and that will not be easy. Their game this weekend at Minnesota is a must-win. Then they must come back and beat either Purdue or Illinois for thier 6th win, before going on the road to Michigan. More than 6-5 would be surprising at this point.
Iowa: The Hawkeyes must also go 2-2 in their final four games to be bowl eligible. Their task will be even more difficult than OSU’s. A home game vs. Minnesota should give them 1 win. None of the other 3 games will be easy. If they make it to a bowl, it will be big improvement for Iowa. My guess: Iowa’s going bowling.
Northwestern: This was one of my picks for a surprise team this season. Oh well. They also must go 2-2 to finish with 6 wins. A game against Bowling Green will give them 5, and the other 3 games are all winnable. I think they’ll come out with a 7-4 record and a decent bowl.
Wisconsin: They need to win 2 of the last three games to go bowling. Michigan will probably beat the Badgers so that means they will have to win the other two. Both are winnable games. Whoever wins this week’s Iowa/Wisc game will likely go bowling while the other may stay home. Wisconsin better win.
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