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Big Ten rooting interest: Week 11

It's time once again to look at who the Big Ten's top contenders should be rooting for in Week 11.

We're still looking at the Big Ten's top four teams: Wisconsin, Ohio State, Michigan State and Iowa. The Badgers, Buckeyes and Hawkeyes are in action Saturday, while the 11th-ranked Spartans can sit back and relax.

Here's the schedule:

  • No. 13 Iowa at Northwestern

  • Indiana at No. 7 Wisconsin

  • Penn State at No. 9 Ohio State

I'm going to split each team's interest into two categories: Rose Bowl/BCS automatic berth and BCS at-large berth.

WISCONSIN BADGERS (8-1, 4-1 Big Ten)

For Rose Bowl/Big Ten automatic BCS berth, the Badgers should root for ...

  • Both Ohio State and Iowa to win Saturday. Wisconsin would love to finish alone atop the Big Ten at 7-1, but the Badgers want to avoid a two-team tie with Michigan State, which beat them on Oct. 2. If both the Buckeyes and the Hawkeyes lose Saturday, Wisconsin would need to win out and hope Michigan State stumbles against Purdue or Penn State to reach the Rose Bowl. That could be wishful thinking. Wisconsin would win tiebreakers with both Ohio State and Iowa because of the Badgers' wins against those teams. Also, the Badgers' BCS profile increases if both Ohio State and Iowa continue to win.

For a BCS at-large spot, the Badgers should root for ...

  • Iowa to lose to Northwestern. A Hawkeyes loss all but eliminates them from BCS bowl contention. Although an Iowa win help Wisconsin's BCS profile, the Badgers only would have to worry about Ohio State and Michigan State if the Hawkeyes suffer their third loss. Honestly, this game doesn't impact Wisconsin too much either way.

  • Ohio State to lose to Penn State. While this could hurt Wisconsin's Rose Bowl chances, it would hand Ohio State a second Big Ten loss and make it a lot tougher for the Buckeyes to reach a BCS bowl. Again, it's about getting another at-large contender out of Wisconsin's way.

  • Arizona State to beat Stanford. This helps Wisconsin for two reasons. It likely would eliminate Stanford from BCS bowl consideration and ensure that the Pac-10 gets only one team in the big bowls. It also would enhance Wisconsin's BCS profile because the Badgers beat Arizona State on Sept. 18.

  • San Diego State to beat TCU. The Aztecs are a pretty solid team this year, and while it would be a huge upset in Fort Worth, Texas, a San Diego State win takes TCU out of the BCS picture.

  • Nebraska to lose to Kansas and Oklahoma State to lose to Texas. Losses by both the Huskers and Cowboys would all but ensure the Big 12 gets only its champion into a BCS bowl.

  • Both Boise State and LSU to struggle in their games. I can't see the Broncos or Tigers losing to Idaho or Louisiana-Monroe, but mediocre performances could impact their places in the BCS standings.

  • Oregon to lose to Cal and Auburn to lose to Georgia. Wisconsin isn't completely out of the national title picture, and losses by the nation's top two teams would open the door a bit for the Badgers.

OHIO STATE BUCKEYES (8-1, 4-1)

For Rose Bowl/Big Ten automatic BCS berth, the Buckeyes should root for ...

  • Wisconsin to lose to Indiana. If the Badgers lose and Ohio State keeps winning, the Buckeyes don't have to worry about losing a potential head-to-head tiebreaker. Although this could hurt Ohio State's BCS profile in a potential two-team tie against Michigan State, the Buckeyes are already ahead of the Spartans in the BCS standings and still can boost their profile next week at Iowa.

  • Iowa to beat Northwestern. Ohio State can eliminate the Hawkeyes from the Big Ten title race on its own next week at Kinnick Stadium. The Buckeyes should want their win against Iowa to look at good as possible, especially if the Big Ten's ultimate tiebreaker is the final BCS standings. Although Ohio State trails Wisconsin and is only two spots ahead of Michigan State in the BCS standings, the Buckeyes have the best opportunity to enhance their profile because of the Iowa game.

For a BCS at-large spot, the Buckeyes should root for ...

  • A Wisconsin loss and an Iowa win. Ohio State needs to leapfrog Wisconsin in both the league standings and the BCS standings to have the best chance for an at-large berth. The Buckeyes also want Iowa to keep winning so a potential victory Nov. 20 looks as good as possible.

  • Miami to beat Georgia Tech. Ohio State's BCS computer profile really could use a boost from Miami, which looked like a pretty good win on Sept. 11 before rapidly losing its luster. The Buckeyes should be big Hurricanes fans the rest of the way.

  • Illinois to beat Minnesota. The Buckeyes beat Illinois on the road and need that win to look as good as possible for their BCS profile.

  • Arizona State to beat Stanford. This wouldn't help Ohio State as much as it would Wisconsin, but anything that hurts Stanford's BCS at-large profile helps the Buckeyes.

  • For reasons stated above, losses by Oregon, Auburn, TCU, Nebraska and Oklahoma State, and poor performances by both Boise State and LSU.

MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS (9-1, 5-1)

For Rose Bowl/Big Ten automatic BCS berth, the Spartans should root for ...

  • Ohio State to lose to Penn State. The Spartans don't play Ohio State and trail the Buckeyes in the BCS standings. Michigan State wants to finish in a two-way tie with Wisconsin or a three-way tie with Wisconsin and Iowa. Getting the Buckeyes out of the way really helps Michigan State.

  • Iowa to lose to Northwestern, but only if Wisconsin loses as well. Remember that if Michigan State, Iowa and Wisconsin all win out, Michigan State goes to the Rose Bowl. The Spartans benefit from an Iowa loss because it decreases the likelihood of a two-team tie with the Hawkeyes, which Iowa would win because of its head-to-head victory. But the Spartans don't want to finish in a three-way tie with Wisconsin and Ohio State, two teams ranked higher in the BCS standings. This result likely would push Michigan State out of a BCS bowl.

For a BCS at-large spot, the Spartans should root for ...

  • Ohio State to lose to Penn State. This is the biggest thing the Spartans should root for because they don't play Ohio State. A second Buckeyes loss likely eliminates them from BCS at-large contention.

  • Iowa to lose to Northwestern. A third Hawkeyes loss would eliminate them from BCS at-large consideration. Although the game has both pros and cons for Michigan State's BCS profile -- the Spartans lost to Iowa but beat Northwestern -- it gets Iowa out of the picture.

  • Wisconsin to beat Indiana, but only if Ohio State loses as well. Remember, this is for an at-large berth, not the automatic berth. The Wisconsin victory is by far the jewel of Michigan State's BCS résumé, so Wisconsin wins can help Michigan State. What Michigan State doesn't want is a three-team tie with both Wisconsin and Ohio State, as the Spartans could be the odd team out of the big bowls.

  • Illinois to beat Minnesota. The Spartans beat Illinois and need more quality wins for their BCS profile.

  • Notre Dame to beat Utah. The Notre Dame win isn't doing much for Michigan State, but it could help the Spartans' profile a bit if the Irish upset the Utes.

  • For reasons stated above, losses by Oregon, Auburn, TCU, Stanford, Nebraska and Oklahoma State, and poor performances by both Boise State and LSU.

IOWA HAWKEYES (7-2, 4-1)

For Rose Bowl/Big Ten automatic BCS berth, the Hawkeyes should root for ...

  • Both Wisconsin and Ohio State to lose Saturday. Unlike the other three teams in the race, Iowa doesn't have to worry about BCS standings being a tiebreaker for 7-1 conference records because it faces each of the contenders. The Hawkeyes benefit from losses by both Wisconsin and Ohio State because it puts them one step closer to a two-team tie with Michigan State, which Iowa would win, or sitting atop the league alone at 7-1.

For a BCS at-large spot, the Hawkeyes should root for ...

  • Ohio State to beat Penn State. Iowa trails all three of its competitors in the BCS standings right now, and the Hawkeyes need a potential win against the Buckeyes to look as good as possible. I doubt Iowa would get the nod ahead of Wisconsin for an at-large berth if Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan State tie atop the conference, but the Hawkeyes' BCS profile would be enhanced.

  • Wisconsin to lose to Indiana. A Badgers loss only would impact Iowa's at-large hopes if there's a tie at 6-2 in Big Ten play rather than at 7-1, but it still hurts Wisconsin, which helps Iowa.

  • Arizona to beat USC. The Hawkeyes want their loss to Arizona to look as good as possible, so they really need the Wildcats to win out.

  • Iowa State to beat Colorado. Iowa nearly got a nice BCS boost from its in-state rival last week, but the Cyclones couldn't knock off Nebraska in overtime. The Hawkeyes benefit from every Iowa State win the rest of the way. And yes, I realize most Iowa fans will refuse to root for Iowa State on principle.

  • For reasons stated above, losses by Oregon, Auburn, TCU, Stanford, Nebraska and Oklahoma State, and poor performances by both Boise State and LSU.