The top of the Big Ten Conference involves one of the best races in college football. Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Michigan State are all tied for first at 6-1 in conference play and they’re all 10-1 overall. Wisconsin beat Ohio State but lost at Michigan State, while the Spartans got crushed by Iowa. So with only one regular season game left for each team, who will win the Big Ten? Let’s explore the clinching scenarios:
> Wisconsin (7th in BCS, 5th in AP) – Needs to beat Northwestern and have Michigan State lose. They hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over Ohio State, so if both they and the Buckeyes win, Wisconsin will be in first.
> Michigan State (10th in BCS, 11th in AP) – Needs to win at Penn State and have Ohio State lose. They hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over Wisconsin, so a Badgers win doesn’t bother them.
> Ohio State (8th in BCS, 8th in AP) – Needs to beat Michigan and have both Wisconsin and Michigan State lose. They lost to Wisconsin and did not face Michigan State, so they need the most help.
*If Wisconsin and Michigan State win but Ohio State loses, the BCS standings will determine the conference winner (likely to be Wisconsin).
*If Ohio State and Michigan State win but Wisconsin loses, the BCS standings will determine the conference winner (likely to be Ohio State).
*If all three teams win, the BCS standings will determine the winner, and that is likely to be Wisconsin.
In the end, Wisconsin has the best path to winning the conference while Michigan State has the most difficult. The Spartans can thank the Big Ten for only having teams play eight conference games per season, missing two opponents each year. They never got a shot at Ohio State to prove what they could do head-to-head and are hurt as a result.Google+