- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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Rejoice. The Big Ten is no longer without a team in the BCS standings. In fact, now it has two.
Getting shut out of the initial standings was a stain on the league's reputation, but one that was easily blotted out. After all, Ohio State would be in the top 12 of the BCS standings if not for probation, and Michigan was right on the cusp of entering. And so, too, was Wisconsin.
The Wolverines debuted at No. 22 in the standings this week after beating Michigan State 12-10. They are No. 20 in both the USA Today coaches' and the Harris Poll, which comprises two-thirds of the BCS formula. Wisconsin jumped into the No. 25 spot of the standings, which is the same place they occupy in the coaches' poll. The Badgers are 26th in the Harris Poll.
Michigan is 19th in the computer rankings average, while Wisconsin is 25th.
What does it mean? Still not much. There's a chance that, if both teams were to win out from here and then stage a very close Big Ten championship game, then the loser could finish in the Top 14 with a 10-3 record. That would make the title-game loser eligible for at-large selection, and any BCS game would have to think long and hard about taking a team with such a recognizable brand name and passionate fan base. At 10-3 with losses to Alabama and Notre Dame, Michigan would have a strong case for inclusion. Wisconsin will have to hope that Oregon State keeps winning to make that earlier loss look as good as possible, while also helping the computer rankings.
But the Big Ten's reputation is such that it's hard to see any team moving high up the standings by beating conference competition, unless teams elsewhere in the country fall apart. So for Michigan, Wisconsin and every other Big Ten team, the goal remains simple: Win a division title and the league championship game and get to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl.
Everything else is wishful thinking at this point.
14hJosh Moyer and Mitch Sherman