We are slightly more than halfway through the Big Ten season, and the Rose Bowl picture seems less clear than it did a few weeks ago. We’ve seen heartbreaking losses by Iowa and Wisconsin, and seen some high-powered offenses fail to put up many points. The teams that are currently leading their divisions, Nebraska and Penn State, are doing it with defense. Here’s a look at the road to Indianapolis.
Teams in control of their own destiny: Nebraska, Iowa and Penn State. With a 5-0 conference record, it should be no surprise that if Penn State wins out, the Nittany Lions will play in the Inaugural Big Ten Championship Game. Other teams still in the running in the Legends division include Wisconsin and Ohio State.
In the Leaders Division, it may surprise you that Iowa, currently in fourth-place in a six-team division, is in control of its’ own destiny. Three of the Hawkeyes remaining four games are against the teams that are in front of Iowa in the Big Ten’s Leaders Division. If the Hawkeyes win those three games, as well as a game at Purdue, Iowa will play for the Big Ten Championship and trip to the Rose Bowl.
Nebraska, is sitting at 3-1 within the conference, is also in control of its’ own destiny. If the Huskers win out, they will have to beat Michigan and Iowa. Nebraska owns the tie-breaker against Michigan State, which is currently tied for the division lead. For the Spartans to be assured of winning the division, they’ll need to win out and have Nebraska lose.
For Michigan to make it to Indianapolis, it would need to win out, and have Michigan State lose a game. It would still be possible for Michigan to lose a game and win the division, but then it would need Michigan State to lose twice, and that loss cannot come against Nebraska.
In the Legends Division, Wisconsin will need to win out to have a chance to make it to Indy. This would include a victory against Penn State, and the Badgers would need Penn State to lose another game, and Ohio State to lose one of its’ remaining games. The Buckeyes can make it to Indianapolis by winning out including a victory over Penn State, and having the Nittany Lions lose a second game.
More than half of the teams are still in the middle of the race to win their divisions, halfway through the Big Ten season. Even a few of the teams that I didn’t list are not eliminated mathematically. In two weeks, I’ll revisit the standings and present updated scenarios. Until then, enjoy the conference race.