Big Ten rooting interest: Week 10

November, 4, 2010
11/04/10
3:31
PM ET
It's back!

The 2010 season is winding down, and that means it's time for Rooting Interest. For those new to the blog or unfamiliar with this post, it takes a look at the Big Ten's top teams and who they should root for in Saturday's games.

The first Rooting Interest installment will include only the four teams with one loss in the Big Ten: Michigan State, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Iowa. I'm also going to split each team's rooting interest into two categories (Rose Bowl and BCS at-large). I'll likely include other teams as we go on, but this is a good starting point.

Reminder: Ohio State is off this week.

MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS (8-1, 4-1 Big Ten)


For Rose Bowl/Big Ten automatic BCS berth, the Spartans should root for:
  • Iowa to lose to Indiana. The one tiebreaker scenario guaranteed to go against Michigan State is head-to-head against Iowa. Although the Spartans would win a three-team tiebreaker with both Wisconsin and Iowa, they'd rather have Iowa out of the picture.
  • Wisconsin to lose to Purdue, but only if Iowa loses as well. Obviously, Michigan State wants to finish atop the conference at 7-1, so losses by Wisconsin and Iowa can help that cause. Then again, the Spartans want to avoid a 7-1 tie with only Iowa, so they should only want the Badgers to lose if the Hawkeyes do as well.

For a BCS at-large spot, the Spartans should root for ...
  • Iowa and Wisconsin both to lose. No matter what happens with the Rose Bowl tiebreaker, the Spartans would be in better shape for BCS at-large selection with a stronger overall record than either of these teams.
  • Alabama to beat LSU. The Spartans will have a tough time jumping the Tide, who still have a good chance to make the BCS title game by winning out. LSU, on the other hand, could be the mix for a BCS at-large selection. An LSU loss would drop the Tigers behind Michigan State.
  • Utah to beat TCU. I can't see TCU losing after Saturday's game, but a Horned Frogs loss in Salt Lake City would eliminate them from BCS contention. Utah still would be a concern, but the Utes have road games against Notre Dame and a good San Diego State team plus a rivalry game against BYU. They could stumble again.
  • Arizona to beat Stanford. The Big Ten doesn't want the Pac-10 to have many viable candidates for an at-large selection. A Stanford loss would be a big blow for the Cardinal, while Arizona still must play No. 1 Oregon. Assuming the Wildcats lose that one, they also could fall out of at-large consideration.
  • Losses by Big 12 members Nebraska, Oklahoma and Missouri. One of them likely will win the league and an automatic BCS berth, but their chances for at-large selection take a hit with loss No. 2.
  • Unimpressive showings by both Boise State and Auburn. It's hard to expect either squad to lose Saturday, but style points matter for possible BCS at-large selection.
IOWA HAWKEYES (6-2, 3-1)

For Rose Bowl/Big Ten automatic BCS berth, the Hawkeyes should root for:
  • Wisconsin to lose to Purdue. Iowa can't win a head-to-head tiebreaker against the Badgers, but a Wisconsin loss would put Iowa's Rose Bowl fate in its own hands.
  • Michigan State to lose to Minnesota. Iowa ideally wants to end up atop the Big Ten by itself at 7-1. This can only happen if the Spartans stumble again.

For a BCS at-large spot, the Hawkeyes should root for ...
  • Michigan State and Wisconsin both to lose. No matter what happens with the Rose Bowl tiebreaker, the Hawkeyes would be in better shape for BCS at-large selection with the same overall record as both of these teams.
  • Arizona to beat Stanford. Hear me out here. An Arizona win likely would eliminate Stanford from BCS at-large consideration. Plus, it would help Iowa in the standings because the Hawkeyes lost to a good Arizona team. The kicker is that Arizona still must play Oregon, and if the Ducks beat the Wildcats, it would be hard to see the Pac-10 getting two teams in BCS bowls.
  • For reasons stated above, Utah to beat TCU, Alabama to beat LSU, unimpressive showings by both Boise State and Auburn, and losses by all three Big 12 teams ranked ahead of Iowa.
WISCONSIN BADGERS (7-1, 3-1)

For Rose Bowl/Big Ten automatic BCS berth, the Badgers should root for:
  • Michigan State to lose to Minnesota. The Badgers want to avoid a tie with Michigan State, which holds the head-to-head edge. If the Spartans stumble, Wisconsin controls its own destiny in the Big Ten title race.
  • Iowa to lose to Indiana. Wisconsin already holds the tiebreaker with Iowa, and the Badgers don't benefit from a three-way tie with Iowa and Michigan State. At least an Iowa loss clears the way for Wisconsin to possibly finish alone atop the Big Ten.

For a BCS at-large spot, the Badgers should root for ...
  • Both Michigan State and Iowa to lose. A Spartans loss obviously is much more important, although even if Wisconsin finishes in a three-way tie with Ohio State and Michigan State at 7-1, Wisconsin likely would get an at-large spot ahead of Michigan State. I can't imagine Iowa getting an at-large spot ahead of Wisconsin, even if both win out.
  • For reasons stated above, Utah to beat TCU, Alabama to beat LSU, Arizona to beat Stanford, unimpressive showings by both Boise State and Auburn, and losses by Nebraska, Oklahoma and Missouri.
OHIO STATE BUCKEYES (8-1, 4-1)

For Rose Bowl/Big Ten automatic BCS berth, the Buckeyes should root for:
  • Wisconsin to lose to Purdue. The Buckeyes lose the head-to-head tiebreaker with Wisconsin, so a Badgers loss likely would clear the way for a potential Ohio State run to the Rose Bowl. Ohio State doesn't play Michigan State, but the Buckeyes are three spots higher in the BCS standings and have a tougher closing schedule than the Spartans. If Ohio State finishes in a first-place tie with Michigan State, the team ranked higher in the final BCS standings would go to the Rose Bowl.
  • Michigan State to lose to Minnesota, but only if Wisconsin loses, too. The Buckeyes want to avoid a two-team tie with Wisconsin, but if both Wisconsin and Michigan State lose, Ohio State would control its own destiny in the race.
  • Iowa to lose to Indiana. Ohio State still gets a crack at Iowa, but the Hawkeyes would be in a real hole if they drop their second Big Ten game and third overall.

For a BCS at-large spot, the Buckeyes should root for ...
  • Wisconsin and Michigan State to lose and Iowa to win. Ohio State wants the Badgers and Spartans out of the way as far as at-large selection. An Iowa win helps the Hawkeyes profile and, in turn, would help Ohio State's if it beats Iowa on Nov. 20 at Kinnick Stadium.
  • Miami to beat Maryland. Ohio State's win against Miami doesn't look nearly as good after the Hurricanes' loss to Virginia. The Buckeyes want Miami to win its remaining games and get back in the rankings (if possible).
  • For reasons stated above, Utah to beat TCU, Alabama to beat LSU, Arizona to beat Stanford, unimpressive showings by both Boise State and Auburn, and losses by Nebraska, Oklahoma and Missouri.

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