Big Ten race update: Week 11

November, 7, 2011
11/07/11
10:00
AM ET
There are only three football weekends left before the Big Ten holds its inaugural championship game, and the race to Lucas Oil Field is still about as crowded as the Indianapolis 500.

Last week's results hurt the hopes of two Legends Division contenders but improved the stock of another, while the Leaders' chase maintained its status quo. A quick look at where we stand:

Legends Division

Controls own destiny (i.e., win out and go to Indy): Michigan State (7-2, 4-1) and Iowa (6-3, 3-2)

Alive but needing help: Nebraska (7-2, 3-2) and Michigan (7-2, 3-2)

Of the four, the Cornhuskers clearly have the most difficult path. They travel to Penn State this week and then go to Ann Arbor in Week 12. They'll have to win both difficult road games to stay in contention, and even then it won't matter if Michigan State wins out. The second-most difficult challenge belongs to Michigan, which is at Illinois this week before finishing up at home against Nebraska and Ohio State.

Of course, Michigan State is at Iowa this week, and a Spartans victory would eliminate the Hawkeyes from any serious contention. Michigan State would then only have to beat Indiana at home and win at Northwestern to clinch the title. If Iowa, Nebraska and Michigan all win this weekend, we'd have a four-way tie at 4-2 atop the division with two weeks to play. But the Spartans and Wolverines would be in trouble because they would be 1-2 against the others, and that will be a key factor in any multi-team tiebreaker (again, here are the full division tiebreakers).

Cumulative records of the remaining opponents on each contenders' schedules:

Michigan State: 11-17
Iowa: 18-9
Michigan: 19-8
Nebraska: 21-6

Leaders Division


Controls own destiny (i.e., win out and go to Indy): Penn State (8-1, 5-0)

Alive but needing help: Wisconsin (7-2, 3-2) and Ohio State (6-3, 3-2)

The Buckeyes and Badgers stayed afloat with victories last weekend as the Nittany Lions rested. But this won't really be a race unless Penn State loses in one of the next two weeks. The Nebraska game this week doesn't look as difficult after the Cornhuskers lost to Northwestern at home. Nebraska's only wins away from Lincoln this year came against Wyoming and Minnesota.

Ohio State will get a chance to hurt Penn State and help itself when Joe Paterno's team goes to Columbus in Week 12, and then Wisconsin could deliver the knockout blow in Madison in the regular-season finale. If Penn State lost only those two road games and Ohio State and Wisconsin won out, the Buckeyes would go to Indianapolis thanks to their head-to-head victories over the Nittany Lions and Badgers. Wisconsin would rather see Penn State lose to Nebraska and then beat Ohio State, thus setting up a winner-take-all match in the finale. Or Ohio State could beat Penn State and lose at Michigan to send Bret Bielema's team to Indianapolis.

Wisconsin has the best schedule left, but also needs the most help of the three contenders.

Cumulative records of the remaining opponents on each contenders' schedules:

Wisconsin: 16-11
Ohio State: 19-8
Penn State: 20-7

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?

BIG TEN SCOREBOARD

Friday, 11/28
Saturday, 11/29