Monday, November 16, 2009
Breaking down the Big Ten race
By ESPN.com staff
I'm a little jealous of colleague Ted Miller today. While he gets to figure out the traffic jam in the Pac-10, the Big Ten title race is essentially finished before the final Saturday of league games.
Four teams can still tie for the Big Ten championship, but Ohio State earned the league's automatic BCS berth with its 27-24 overtime win against Iowa on Saturday. Barring a major BCS standings shakeup, the Buckeyes will be heading to the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1 to face an opponent that emerges out of that Pac-10 logjam.
Ohio State can win the Big Ten title outright at 7-1 if it beats archrival Michigan for the sixth consecutive season on Saturday in Ann Arbor (ABC, noon ET). And even if the Buckeyes lose to Michigan, they get the automatic BCS berth by virtue of victories against Iowa, Wisconsin and Penn State.
At the very worst, Ohio State has clinched a share of the Big Ten title for the fifth consecutive season, a truly amazing run under head coach Jim Tressel.
For Iowa, Wisconsin and Penn State to earn a share of the league title, they need to win this week and hope Ohio State falters at the Big House.
The remaining seven Big Ten teams all have at least three losses in conference play and are thus eliminated from the championship race.