Big Ten: Robb Akey

Today is the only time that we get a glimpse into the coaches poll, as the final ballot has been released.

Six Big Ten head coaches participated this year: Ohio State's Jim Tressel, Michigan's Rich Rodriguez, Illinois' Ron Zook, Indiana's Bill Lynch, Michigan State's Mark Dantonio and Minnesota's Tim Brewster.

Let's take a quick look at the notable selections from each coach's ballot.

Jim Tressel's ballot: Alabama at No. 1, Oregon at No. 7, Ohio State at No. 8, Iowa at No. 9, Penn State at No. 10, Wisconsin at No. 15, USC at No. 25.

Rich Rodriguez's ballot: Alabama at No. 1, Texas at No. 2, Ohio State at No. 7, Oregon at No. 8, Penn State at No. 9, Iowa at No. 10, West Virginia at No. 18, Wisconsin at No. 20.

Ron Zook's ballot: Alabama at No. 1, Texas at No. 2, Ohio State at No. 7, Penn State at No. 10, Iowa at No. 11, Wisconsin at No. 17.

Bill Lynch's ballot: Alabama at No. 1, Texas at No. 2, Ohio State at No. 7, Iowa at No. 9, Penn State at No. 10, Wisconsin at No. 16, Northwestern at No. 24.

Mark Dantonio's ballot: Texas at No. 1, Alabama at No. 2, Cincinnati at No. 3, Ohio State at No. 7, Penn State at No. 9, Iowa at No. 10, Wisconsin at No. 18, Central Michigan at No. 25.

Tim Brewster's ballot: Texas at No. 1, Alabama at No. 2, Ohio State at No. 7, Iowa at No. 9, Penn State at No. 10, Wisconsin at No. 23.

Quick thoughts:
  • Dantonio and Brewster were two of only four coaches to rank Texas at No. 1 (Idaho's Robb Akey and Nebraska's Bo Pelini were the others). Brewster coached under Mack Brown at Texas and has a son, Nolan, who plays safety for the Longhorns.
  • Only three of the six Big Ten coaches voted Iowa ahead of Penn State despite the Hawkeyes' head-to-head victory Sept. 26.
  • Brewster ranked Wisconsin much lower than his Big Ten colleagues (think there's a rivalry there?).
  • Lynch was the only Big Ten coach who voted for Northwestern. Louisiana-Monroe's Charlie Weatherbie ranked the Wildcats at No. 19.
  • Ohio State received its highest ranking (5) from a Michigan guy, LSU head coach Les Miles. The Buckeyes' lowest rating (11) came from South Carolina's Steve Spurrier, who ranked Iowa at No. 10.
  • Penn State ranked anywhere from 8 to 13, with the lowest votes coming from Eastern Michigan's Ron English and Mississippi State's Dan Mullen.
  • Iowa ranked anywhere from 8 to 18, as Washington State's Paul Wulff clearly didn't think much of the Hawkeyes. Stanford's Jim Harbaugh ranked Iowa 16th.

Big Ten rooting interest: Nov. 14

November, 11, 2009
11/11/09
1:00
PM ET
Posted ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Since there's such a big traffic jam in the middle and lower half of the Big Ten, I'll explore the rooting interest for every team with five or more victories. Let's start at the top of the standings and work our way down.

Iowa (9-1, 5-1) should root for ...
  • Itself to beat Ohio State. If so, the Hawkeyes are going to the Rose Bowl. But a loss wouldn't completely eliminate Iowa from BCS at-large consideration. What Iowa can't afford is a blowout loss to Ohio State. It must keep things close at The Shoe.
  • Indiana to beat Penn State. The Nittany Lions are Iowa's biggest threat to a BCS at-large berth, even though Iowa won the head-to-head meeting on Sept. 26. Penn State is slotted in the Orange Bowl or Fiesta Bowl in some projections but certainly won't qualify if it loses to Indiana or Michigan State.
  • Utah to knock off TCU. A loss takes the Horned Frogs out of the BCS bowl mix. Utah is TCU's toughest remaining opponent, while Boise State looks like a good bet to run the table and finish undefeated.
  • Idaho to stun Boise State. Vandals coach Robb Akey thinks it can be done, and Idaho and Nevada are Boise's only remaining tests. A loss by the Broncos takes them out of the BCS bowl mix.
  • Stanford to upset USC. The Trojans remain an appealing team to bowl committees, particularly the Fiesta. But a third Pac-10 loss would take them out of the BCS bowl mix.
  • North Carolina to beat Miami. It's pretty unlikely that the U would leapfrog a 10-2 Big Ten team for a BCS bowl berth, considering how poorly Miami travels. But it doesn't hurt to get the Hurricanes out of the way.
  • Cincinnati, Texas and Georgia Tech to keep winning. The Big Ten can't afford multiple BCS bowl entries from the Big East, Big 12 or ACC, so it wants the Bearcats, Longhorns and Yellow Jackets to earn the automatic berths.
  • Pittsburgh to beat Notre Dame. Some of you are probably going, 'Huh?' Here's the deal. A Notre Dame win against No. 12 Pitt could put the Irish back in the BCS standings. Notre Dame is the one team that the Big Ten doesn't want to go against for an at-large berth. What about Pitt? Well, the Panthers still have games at West Virginia and versus Cincinnati, so bank on them losing one of those.
Ohio State (8-2, 5-1) should root for ...
  • Itself to beat Iowa. A win gives Ohio State the Big Ten's automatic berth to a BCS bowl, almost certainly the Rose Bowl. A loss definitely takes the Buckeyes out of the BCS bowl mix.
Penn State (8-2, 4-2) should root for ...
  • Itself to win big against Indiana. The Lions lost their two most important games of the season, so they need to win impressively against both Indiana and Michigan State. Penn State has all the outside factors (national name, legendary coach, huge fan base) working in its favor. It must get the results on the field.
  • Ohio State to crush Iowa. The BCS bowl committees will consider Ricky Stanzi's injury, but an Iowa team that drops at least two of its last three and gets blown out at Ohio Stadium doesn't seem too appealing.
  • Losses by TCU, Boise State, USC, Miami and Notre Dame. Wins by Cincinnati, Texas and Georgia Tech. See above for details.
Wisconsin (7-2, 4-2) should root for ...
  • Itself to destroy Michigan. The Badgers don't have any more chances for signature wins, but they can impress the bowl committees by finishing strong.
  • Ohio State to crush Iowa. Wisconsin might need another Hawkeyes loss to leapfrog Iowa in the at-large pecking order, but it would help to see Ohio State win by 20 or 30.
  • Indiana to upset Penn State. Wisconsin and Penn State both have two losses to the same two teams (Iowa and Ohio State) and don't play head-to-head, but Penn State is viewed as the more attractive BCS bowl team. I'm not saying it's fair, but the Lions carry a national name and the Joe Paterno factor. Wisconsin, meanwhile, has been under the radar most of the season.
  • Losses by TCU, Boise State, USC, Miami and Notre Dame. Wins by Cincinnati, Texas and Georgia Tech. See above for details.
Northwestern (6-4, 3-3) should root for ...
  • Itself to beat Illinois. A seventh win would maintain or increase the gap between NU and teams like Michigan State, Michigan and Minnesota. It also would eliminate Illinois from the bowl picture. Northwestern often gets leapfrogged for bowls, so the Wildcats need to create distance.
  • Wisconsin to beat Michigan. Like several other teams, the Wildcats don't want to see Michigan become bowl eligible. Michigan fans aren't exactly jazzed about this team, but they haven't been to a bowl game in two years and still carry a national name. Trust me, Michigan will leapfrog teams if possible.
  • Purdue to beat Michigan State. The Spartans then would need to beat Penn State next week just to get bowl eligible. Michigan State beat Northwestern head-to-head and likely would jump the Wildcats in the selection order. Then again, a Spartans win in West Lafayette eliminates Purdue, so it wouldn't be the end of the world.
  • South Dakota State to beat Minnesota. The Gophers own a head-to-head win against NU, though the Wildcats might be the more appealing bowl team this year. Still, getting Minnesota out of the picture would help.
  • Penn State to beat Indiana. It takes the Hoosiers out of the bowl mix entirely, and increases Penn State's chances of earning at an-large BCS berth, which would move up everyone in the bowl selections.
Michigan State (5-5, 3-3) should root for ...
  • Itself to beat Purdue. The Spartans would eliminate the Boilers from the bowl picture and become bowl eligible themselves. It would give MSU a shot for a 3-0 November and prevent them from needing a win against Penn State to reach six wins.
  • Illinois to beat Northwestern. Though this would keep the Illini alive for a bowl, it would also keep Michigan State no more than a game behind Northwestern in overall record. The Spartans have a good chance at jumping the Wildcats if they can.
  • South Dakota State to beat Minnesota. The Gophers hold the head-to-head edge against MSU, but a loss Saturday would force Minnesota to beat Iowa next week just to get bowl eligible.
  • Wins by Wisconsin and Penn State. See above for details.
Minnesota (5-5, 3-4) should root for ...
  • Itself to beat South Dakota State. The Gophers don't want to visit Iowa City next week needing a victory just to get bowl eligible. Plus, a win keeps them no more than a game behind Northwestern, a team they beat Sept. 26 on the road.
  • Illinois to beat Northwestern. Though Minnesota lost to Illinois last week, it can bet on the Illini falling out of the bowl picture by losing to Cincinnati on Nov. 27. The Gophers want to stay close to Northwestern in overall record.
  • Purdue to beat Michigan State. Minnesota owns head-to-head wins against both of these teams, but the Gophers don't want to go against Michigan State for bowl selection. A Spartans loss puts them in a must-win situation against Penn State. Purdue can't finish any better than 6-6.
  • Wins by Wisconsin and Penn State. See above for details.
Michigan (5-5, 1-5) should root for ...
  • Itself to beat Wisconsin. The Wolverines don't want to go into next week needing a win against archrival Ohio State simply to get bowl eligible.
  • Illinois to beat Northwestern. Michigan likely will jump Northwestern in bowl selection if possible, so the Wolverines need to remain close enough to the Wildcats in overall record.
  • Purdue to beat Michigan State. Though Michigan lost to both of these teams, Michigan State is the bigger threat in terms of bowl selection. Purdue can finish no better than 6-6, so if Michigan gets bowl eligible, it would be no worse than tied with the Boilers in overall record. Despite the head-to-head loss, the Wolverines likely would get the nod.
  • South Dakota State to beat Minnesota. It puts Minnesota one step closer to a bowl-less winter, though Michigan would probably get picked ahead of the Gophers if both teams finished 6-6 or 7-5.
  • Penn State to beat Indiana. See above for details.

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