Big Ten rooting interest: Week 12

November, 18, 2010
11/18/10
5:30
PM ET
The pool for Rooting Interest has been trimmed from four teams to three after Iowa dropped a game back in the Big Ten standings. If it looks likely that 6-2 will win the Big Ten, I'll add the Hawkeyes to next week's version.

One again, each capsule looks at rooting interests both for an automatic BCS berth -- most likely to the Rose Bowl -- or a BCS at-large berth.

Here are the BCS standings and the Week 12 schedule:
  • No. 7 Wisconsin at Michigan
  • No. 9 Ohio State at No. 20 Iowa
  • Purdue at No. 12 Michigan State

Get out your pom poms ...

WISCONSIN BADGERS (9-1, 5-1 Big Ten)

For the Rose Bowl/Big Ten automatic BCS berth, the Badgers should root for ...
  • Michigan State to lose to Purdue. Wisconsin wants to avoid a head-to-head tie with the Spartans, who beat the Badgers on Oct. 2. If Michigan State loses and Wisconsin wins out, the Badgers get the automatic berth no matter what happens with Ohio State.
  • Ohio State to beat Iowa. It's unlikely Michigan State loses to Purdue at home, so the Badgers should be pulling for Ohio State on Saturday. Although the Buckeyes are closing the gap in the BCS standings, I think Wisconsin will finish higher if both teams win out. An Ohio State loss only will help Wisconsin if Michigan State also loses.
  • Miami to lose to Virginia Tech and Notre Dame to lose to Army. Ohio State beat Miami and Michigan State beat Notre Dame, so losses by those two teams will hurt the BCS profiles of both the Buckeyes and the Spartans.
  • Northwestern to beat Illinois. The Badgers host Northwestern next week and want a potential win to look as good as possible for their BCS profile. Northwestern likely will enter the BCS standings if it beats Illinois. Wisconsin doesn't play Illinois, which lost to both Ohio State and Michigan State.

For a BCS at-large spot, the Badgers should root for ...
  • Ohio State to lose to Iowa. Although the Badgers could lose the automatic BCS berth to Michigan State in this scenario, they would be in better shape for an at-large berth than Ohio State at 11-1 (vs. 10-2).
  • Michigan State to lose to Purdue. I can't see the Spartans earning an at-large berth ahead of Wisconsin if both teams win out, but a loss would take Michigan State out of the at-large picture.
  • Stanford to lose to Cal. This likely would eliminate Stanford from BCS bowl consideration and ensure that the Pac-10 gets only one team in the big bowls.
  • Nebraska to lose to Texas A&M. Sorry, Huskers, you're not in the Big Ten yet. A Nebraska loss likely eliminates Big Red from at-large consideration if the Huskers don't win the Big 12 championship game.
  • LSU to lose to Mississippi. The Tigers' only hope for a BCS berth is an at-large spot, and a loss to a struggling Ole Miss team likely would eliminate them from consideration.
  • Oklahoma State to lose to Kansas. A second Cowboys loss would remove them from at-large consideration.
  • Boise State to lose to Fresno State. A Broncos loss would remove them from the BCS bowl picture.
  • Miami to lose to Virginia Tech and Notre Dame to lose to Army, for reasons stated above.
OHIO STATE BUCKEYES (9-1, 5-1)

For Rose Bowl/Big Ten automatic BCS berth, the Buckeyes should root for ...
  • Wisconsin to lose to Michigan. As tough as it might be to pull for their archrival, the Buckeyes want a Michigan victory Saturday. Ohio State will lose a head-to-head tiebreaker with Wisconsin and likely will remain behind the Badgers in the BCS standings if both teams win out.
  • Michigan State to lose to Purdue, but only if Wisconsin also loses. Winning the Big Ten outright is the ideal outcome for Ohio State, which doesn't face Michigan State this season. But a Spartans loss only benefits Ohio State if Wisconsin also stumbles because Ohio State wants to avoid the two-way tie with the Badgers. A Michigan State win doesn't hurt too much as long as Ohio State also wins Saturday.
  • Miami to beat Virginia Tech. Ohio State wants its win against Miami to look as good as possible for its BCS profile.
  • Illinois to beat Northwestern. The Buckeyes want their road win against the Illini to look as good as possible. They don't face Northwestern, a team that has lost to Michigan State and visits Wisconsin next week.

For a BCS at-large spot, the Buckeyes should root for ...
  • Michigan State to lose to Purdue. Although the Spartans are three spots behind Ohio State in the BCS standings, they boast a stronger computer profile. A three-way tie atop the Big Ten likely would send Wisconsin and Ohio State to BCS bowls, but a Spartans loss eliminates them from at-large contention as long as the Buckeyes keep winning.
  • Wins by Miami and Illinois, for reasons stated above.
  • Losses by Stanford, Boise State, LSU, Oklahoma State, Nebraska and Notre Dame, for reasons stated above.
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 Iowa. If the Buckeyes stumble once and Michigan State wins out, the Spartans will go to the Rose Bowl no matter what Wisconsin does.
  • Michigan to beat Wisconsin, but only if Ohio State also loses to Iowa. For Rose Bowl purposes, Michigan State wants to avoid a two-way tie with Ohio State atop the Big Ten. The Buckeyes are already ahead in the BCS standings and likely will remain there, which would give them the automatic berth. It's good for Michigan State if Wisconsin loses, but only if Ohio State also loses. If Spartans fans think Ohio State will beat Iowa, root for Wisconsin to beat Michigan. Rooting against the Maize and Blue never has been hard to do.

For a BCS at-large spot, the Spartans should root for ...
  • The only scenario where I see Michigan State getting an at-large berth is if both the Spartans and Ohio State win out and Wisconsin loses once. While Ohio State likely would earn an automatic berth because of a higher ranking in the BCS standings, Michigan State would be in good shape for an at-large at 11-1.
  • Michigan State's at-large recruiting interests have more to do with the Big Ten as a whole. The Spartans should root for losses by Stanford, Boise State, LSU, Oklahoma State and Nebraska, for reasons stated above.
  • Notre Dame to beat Army. Notre Dame victories help Michigan State's BCS profile because the Spartans beat the Irish on Sept. 18.
  • Northwestern to beat Illinois. Although the Spartans beat both teams, their road win against Northwestern will look better if the Wildcats beat the Illini and likely enter the BCS standings.
  • Penn State to beat Indiana. The Spartans want a potential road win against Penn State next week to be as good as possible for their BCS profile.

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