Big Ten sets division tiebreaker rules

Updated: September 1, 2011, 11:10 AM ET
By Adam Rittenberg | ESPN.com

A Big Ten team unable to play in a postseason bowl game because of league or NCAA sanctions will not be eligible to play in the conference championship game.

The bowl game stipulation is part of the Big Ten's complex tiebreaking procedures for determining division champions, released Thursday.

Ohio State is waiting for a ruling from the NCAA's Committee on Infractions regarding violations committed by former coach Jim Tressel, former quarterback Terrelle Pryor and four current players. The school has self-imposed penalties that include vacating all wins from the 2010 season and returning its share of the Big Ten's Sugar Bowl revenue.

Two-team ties will be broken by head-to-head record.

If three or more teams tie atop a division, the following methods will be used in order to determine a champion or reduce the glut to two, where a head-to-head tiebreaker then can be used:

• Records of the teams

• Records of the three tied teams compared within their division

• Records of the teams against the next-highest teams within the division

• Records against all common conference opponents

• The team ranked highest in the BCS standings after the regular season gets the league championship game berth unless it is ranked within one spot of another tied team. In this case, the head-to-head result of the two teams would determine the division champion.

• The team with the highest overall win percentage (outside of exempted games)

• The division champion will be chosen by random draw.

The BCS standings determined the Big Ten's automatic BCS bowl berth last season after Wisconsin, Michigan State and Ohio State tied atop the league at 7-1. Wisconsin earned a berth in the Rose Bowl because it finished fifth in the final BCS standings, one spot ahead of Ohio State and four spots ahead of Michigan State, which handed the Badgers their lone regular-season loss.

If an ineligible team wins the division, the tiebreaking procedures would proceed with all eligible teams to determine a title game participant. An eligible team that ties for the division with an ineligible team would go to the title game, as would an eligible team that finishes second behind an ineligible team.

The inaugural Big Ten championship game will be played Dec. 3 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Adam Rittenberg covers Big Ten football for ESPN.com. He can be reached at espnritt@gmail.com.