I'm going to try and keep this week's Rooting Interest as simple as possible. Once again, we'll examine Big Ten leaders Wisconsin, Ohio State and Michigan State and look at who each team should root for Saturday to earn the league's automatic BCS berth or a potential BCS at-large berth.
Note: I'm going to only include nonconference results in the rooting interest for at-large berths.
Rankings (in BCS standings)
No. 7 Wisconsin
No. 8 Ohio State
No. 10 Michigan State
Week 13 schedule
Michigan State at Penn State (ESPN2, noon ET)
Michigan at Ohio State (ABC, noon ET)
Northwestern at Wisconsin (ABC, 3:30 p.m. ET)
WISCONSIN BADGERS (10-1, 6-1)
For the Big Ten's automatic BCS berth, the Badgers should root for ...
Michigan State to lose to Penn State. If the Spartans lose, the Badgers can clinch the automatic berth with a win. It wouldn't matter what Ohio State does because of Wisconsin's head-to-head win Oct. 16.
Ohio State to do what Michigan State does. If both the Buckeyes and the Spartans win, Wisconsin remains in good shape to finish highest in the final BCS standings as long as it beats Northwestern. If both Ohio State and Michigan State lose, the Badgers can win the league title outright.
Losses by both Miami and Notre Dame. Ohio State beat Miami and Michigan State beat Notre Dame, so losses by those teams wouldn't help the BCS profiles of the Buckeyes or the Spartans.
For a BCS at-large berth, the Badgers should root for ...
Boise State to lose to Nevada. A Broncos loss would eliminate them from BCS contention.
Losses by Oregon and/or Stanford. If the Ducks or Cardinal fall Saturday, the Pac-10 will only get one team in a BCS bowl.
Auburn to beat Alabama. A third Crimson Tide loss would completely eliminate them from at-large consideration.
Arkansas to beat LSU. A second Tigers loss likely would eliminate them from at-large consideration and make it tough for the SEC to send two teams to BCS bowls.
An unimpressive performance by TCU against New Mexico. It's unrealistic to think the Horned Frogs will lose, but a poor showing against a bad team could hurt their at-large chances.
Oklahoma to beat Oklahoma State. A second Cowboys loss likely would eliminate them from at-large consideration. It also would set up a meeting of 2-loss teams in the Big 12 championship game, virtually ensuring the league of no BCS at-large berths.
OHIO STATE BUCKEYES (10-1, 6-1)
For the Big Ten's automatic BCS berth, the Buckeyes should root for ...
Wisconsin to lose to Northwestern. If the Badgers lose and Ohio State wins, the Buckeyes likely will remain the Big Ten's highest-rated team in the BCS standings as long as they beat Michigan. It's unlikely Michigan State could leapfrog Ohio State into the top spot even if it wins in Happy Valley.
Both Michigan State and Wisconsin to lose. If both teams fall and Ohio State beats Michigan, the Buckeyes would win the Big Ten title outright.
Miami to beat South Florida and Notre Dame to lose to USC. A Miami win helps Ohio State's BCS profile, while a Notre Dame loss wouldn't help Michigan State's profile.
For a BCS at-large berth, the Buckeyes should root for ...
For reasons stated above, losses by Oregon, Stanford, LSU, Alabama and Oklahoma State, and a poor showing by TCU against New Mexico.
MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS (10-1, 6-1)
For the Big Ten's automatic BCS berth, the Spartans should root for ...
Michigan to beat Ohio State. As painful as it is, the Spartans become Wolverines fans on Saturday. If Michigan upsets Ohio State, Michigan State can earn the automatic berth if it beats Penn State because of its head-to-head win against Wisconsin on Oct. 2.
Notre Dame to beat USC. Michigan State needs to boost its BCS profile as much as possible if it ends up in a two-way tie with Ohio State atop the Big Ten. A Notre Dame win helps the Spartans' cause.
Miami to lose to South Florida. This would make Ohio State's win against the Hurricanes on Sept. 11 even less impressive than it already is.
For a BCS at-large berth, the Spartans should root for ...
Wisconsin to lose to Northwestern, but only if Ohio State wins. The Spartans obviously would like both teams to lose, but if Ohio State beats Michigan, the Spartans benefit from a Wisconsin loss because they would avoid a three-team tie atop the conference where they would most likely be the odd team out as far as BCS selections go.
For reasons stated above, a Notre Dame win, as well as losses by Oregon, Stanford, LSU, Alabama and Oklahoma State, and a poor showing by TCU against New Mexico.