Race for the Roses 2012: Week 8

Kevork Djansezian

Seven potential Big Ten title game participants have been whittled down to three. Will Wisconsin face Nebraska or Michigan?

Last week, plenty of chaos was still possible in both divisions - it was theoretically possible for a BCS tiebreaker to have to pick between three 3-5 teams in the East or for five teams to finish tied at 4-4 in the West. Then Wisconsin blew out Indiana, Nebraska and Michigan both won, and Iowa fell to Purdue. As a result, the East is decided (among eligible teams) and the West is reduced to just two contenders.

As always, ratings are here.

Last Week's Results

Wisconsin 62, Indiana 14

It took longer than expected, but Wisconsin has indeed clinched a repeat trip to Indianapolis. Two weeks after MSU shut the Badgers down on the ground, Wisconsin exploded for 564 rushing yards and threw just seven passes all day in the rout. Indiana still has some hope for a bowl game, although it would require consecutive road wins at Penn State and Purdue.

Nebraska 32, Penn State 23

The Nittany Lions led 20-6 at the half, but Nebraska completed another second-half comeback with two touchdowns to tie the game in the first six minutes of the half and 12 points in the fourth quarter. For the second week in a row, a controversial call figured prominently in the comeback as Penn State was ruled to have fumbled just short of the goal line on what could have been a go-ahead touchdown midway through the fourth.

Michigan 38, Northwestern 31 (OT)

Wild finish in this one - Northwestern led 24-14 in the third quarter but, as is their way, blew it. They regained the lead on a touchdown with four minutes left and intercepted Devin Gardner on the first play after the kickoff. The Cats couldn't quite run out the clock, however, and the Wolverines had just enough time for a tip-drill Hail Mary to set up the tying FG and force overtime. After scoring a touchdown on their possession, Michigan stuffed Northwestern on 4th and 2 to seal the win and keep pace with Nebraska. Northwestern is now out of the hunt for the Big Ten title, as they lose tiebreakers to both Michigan and Nebraska.

Purdue 27, Iowa 24

Another crazy finish. With the game tied and 21 seconds left, Iowa went for it on 4th and 3 at the Purdue 35 rather than try a long field goal into the wind. They got stopped short, and Purdue gained 37 yards in two plays to get in range for a 46-yard game-winning FG. This marks the end of Iowa's faint title game hopes and is probably the end of their bowl hopes as well (needing to upset both Michigan and Nebraska to become eligible); meanwhile, Purdue just has to get past Illinois and Indiana to reach a bowl game.

Minnesota 17, Illinois 3

Illinois actually led for 19 minutes! And they were tied for another 23! Progress! Meanwhile, Minnesota is bowl-eligible for the first time in three years.

West Division Scenarios

Individual game projections are listed as (basic method win percentage / margin-aware win percentage / margin-aware projected margin).

Nebraska (5-1)

Remaining games: Minn (85% / 93% / +19), @Iowa (83% / 79% / +9.5)
Division record: 3-0 (wins over Mich, MSU, NW)

If they win out: They face Wisconsin in Indianapolis. The Huskers hold the tiebreaker over Michigan.
If they lose one: Michigan then controls their own destiny, but Nebraska would still advance to the Big Ten title game if Michigan also loses a game.
If they lose both: They need Michigan to lose both. Northwestern's potential presence in a three-way tie is irrelevant, as Nebraska beat them too.

Chances of reaching Indianapolis: 93.14% by the basic method / 95.07% by margin-aware. They can clinch this week if they beat Minnesota and Michigan loses to Iowa.

Michigan (5-1)

Remaining games: Iowa (86% / 91% / +16.5), @OSU (20% / 16% / -12)
Division record: 3-1 (wins over MSU, Minn, NW; loss to Neb)

If they win out: They need Nebraska to lose a game in order to reach Indianapolis.
If they lose one: Nebraska has to lose both.
If they lose both: Nebraska is the division champion.

Chances of reaching Indianapolis: 6.86% / 4.93%

Northwestern (3-3)

Remaining games: @MSU (50.4% / 39% / -3.5), Ill (90% / 97% / +26)
Division record: 2-2 (wins over Iowa, Minn; losses to Neb, Mich)

If they win out: They can potentially tie for the division title, but they would lose on a head-to-head sweep. However, this would likely clinch a Florida bowl game for them, as they would be 9-3.
If they lose one: Still a reasonable chance of a Florida bowl game, though a 7-5 MSU team might jump them at 8-4. (Minnesota could also jump at 8-4, maybe even at 7-5.)
If they lose both: Make holiday plans for Texas (although the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl in Arizona is also possible).

Michigan State (2-4)

Remaining games: NW (49.6% / 61% / +3.5), @Minn (49.1% / 60% / +3)

If they win out: The Gator Bowl is most likely (jumping an 8-4 Northwestern team), though a trip to Arizona is also possible.
If they lose one: If the loss is to Northwestern, Arizona is the most likely bowl destination; if it's to Minnesota, Texas is more likely.
If they lose both: Not bowl-eligible.

Chance of bowl eligibility: 74.35% / 84.40%

Minnesota (2-4)

Remaining games: @Neb (15% / 7% / -19), MSU (50.9% / 40% / -3)

If they win out: Depending on whether Northwestern also wins out or not, most likely either the Gator Bowl or the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.
If they lose one: Assuming the loss is to Nebraska, they're probably headed for Arizona. Could get jumped by MSU if they beat Nebraska but lose to MSU, in which case a Texas bowl game is the probable destination.
If they lose both: They'll be in Texas.

Iowa (2-4)

Remaining games: @Mich (14% / 9% / -16.5), Neb (17% / 21% / -9.5)

If they win out: Given the quality of those two wins, there's a chance they vault as high as the Gator Bowl if Northwestern loses out and Minnesota doesn't finish 8-4. But realistically, it's probably an Arizona or Texas game.
If they lose one or both: Home for the holidays.

Chance of bowl eligibility: 2.44% / 1.87%

East Division Scenarios

Ohio State (6-0)

Remaining games: @Wisc (75% / 52% / +0.5), Mich (80% / 84% / +12)
Division record: 4-0 (wins over PSU, Pur, Ill, Ind)

If they win one or both: They are outright division champions but will not play in Indianapolis.
If they lose both: Wisconsin can claim the division title if they also beat Penn State; otherwise Ohio State still wins the division (potentially via tiebreaker over Penn State).

Chance of division title: 97.67% / 96.73%

Penn State (4-2)

Remaining games: Ind (77% / 89% / +14.5), Wisc (54% / 58% / +2.5)
Division record: 2-1 (wins over Ill, Pur; loss to OSU)

If they win out: They could tie Ohio State for the division title, but Ohio State would hold the tiebreaker anyway.
If they lose one: They finish second in the division if it's to Indiana or third if it's to Wisconsin.
If they lose both: They may drop to fourth in the division if Indiana also beats Purdue.

Wisconsin (4-2)

Remaining games: OSU (25% / 48% / -0.5), @PSU (46% / 42% / -2.5)
Division record: 3-0 (wins over Ill, Pur, Ind)

If they win out: They win the division if Ohio State also loses to Michigan. They're going to Indianapolis regardless.
If they lose one or both: Ohio State wins the division, but Wisconsin still goes to Indy as the highest-finishing eligible team. Indiana could catch them if they lose both but Wisconsin still advances on the tiebreaker.

Chance of division title: 2.33% / 3.27%

Indiana (2-4)

Remaining games: @PSU (23% / 11% / -14.5), @Pur (40% / 42% / -2.5)
Division record: 1-2 (win over Ill, losses to OSU, Wisc)

If they win out: They could tie Wisconsin for the title among eligible teams, though they would lose the tiebreaker. However, this would also make Indiana bowl-eligible (with a likely destination in Texas).
If they lose one or both: They are not eligible for a bowl.

Chance of bowl eligibility: 8.98% / 4.74%

Purdue (1-5)

Remaining games: @Ill (60% / 66% / +4.5), Ind (60% / 58% / +2.5)

If they win out: They are eligible for a bowl (probably in Texas).
If they lose one or both: The Boilers stay home for the holidays.

Chance of bowl eligibility: 35.95% / 38.57%

Illinois (0-6)

Remaining games: Pur (40% / 34% / -4.5), @NW (11% / 3% / -22.5)

Nothing left to play for but pride.


West, Basic Method
Team Avg wins 0-8 1-7 2-6 3-5 4-4 5-3 6-2 7-1 8-0 Bowl Division
Nebraska (#10) 6.68 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 2.54% 26.91% 70.55% N/A Yes 93.14%
Michigan (#20) 6.06 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 11.23% 71.67% 17.10% N/A Yes 6.86%
Northwestern (#33) 4.40 N/A N/A N/A 5.14% 49.70% 45.16% N/A N/A N/A Yes 0
Michigan State (#50) 2.99 N/A N/A 25.65% 49.99% 24.35% N/A N/A N/A N/A 74.35% 0
Minnesota (#64) 2.66 N/A N/A 41.91% 50.65% 7.44% N/A N/A N/A N/A Yes 0
Iowa (#82) 2.31 N/A N/A 71.03% 26.53% 2.44% N/A N/A N/A N/A 2.44% 0

East, Basic Method
Team Avg wins 0-8 1-7 2-6 3-5 4-4 5-3 6-2 7-1 8-0 Bowl Division Indy
Ohio State (#5) 7.55 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 5.07% 35.25% 59.68% N/A 97.67% N/A
Penn State (#45) 5.31 N/A N/A N/A N/A 10.36% 47.82% 41.82% N/A N/A N/A 0 N/A
Wisconsin (#38) 4.72 N/A N/A N/A N/A 40.21% 48.05% 11.74% N/A N/A Yes 2.33% Yes
Indiana (#80) 2.62 N/A N/A 46.58% 44.44% 8.98% N/A N/A N/A N/A 8.98% 0 0
Purdue (#77) 2.20 N/A 16.03% 48.02% 35.95% N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 35.95% 0 0
Illinois (#104) 0.51 53.61% 42.22% 4.16% N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 0 0 0

West, Margin-Aware Method
Team Avg wins 0-8 1-7 2-6 3-5 4-4 5-3 6-2 7-1 8-0 Bowl Division
Nebraska (#21) 6.72 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 1.39% 24.86% 73.75% N/A Yes 95.07%
Michigan (#32) 6.07 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 7.47% 77.90% 14.64% N/A Yes 4.93%
Northwestern (#38) 4.36 N/A N/A N/A 1.59% 60.52% 37.89% N/A N/A N/A Yes 0
Michigan State (#40) 3.21 N/A N/A 15.60% 47.80% 36.59% N/A N/A N/A N/A 84.40% 0
Minnesota (#76) 2.47 N/A N/A 55.94% 41.42% 2.65% N/A N/A N/A N/A Yes 0
Iowa (#78) 2.30 N/A N/A 71.94% 26.19% 1.87% N/A N/A N/A N/A 1.87% 0

East, Margin-Aware Method
Team Avg wins 0-8 1-7 2-6 3-5 4-4 5-3 6-2 7-1 8-0 Bowl Division Indy
Ohio State (#11) 7.36 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 7.75% 48.82% 43.43% N/A 96.73% N/A
Penn State (#36) 5.46 N/A N/A N/A N/A 4.82% 43.99% 51.19% N/A N/A N/A 0 N/A
Wisconsin (#25) 4.90 N/A N/A N/A N/A 29.90% 49.73% 20.37% N/A N/A Yes 3.27% Yes
Indiana (#74) 2.53 N/A N/A 51.79% 43.47% 4.74% N/A N/A N/A N/A 4.74% 0 0
Purdue (#81) 2.24 N/A 14.14% 47.30% 38.57% N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 38.57% 0 0
Illinois (#110) 0.37 64.24% 34.87% 0.89% N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 0 0 0

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