What's at stake in the final week of Big Ten play.
I'll make this one quick since the scenarios are not very complicated for anyone. As always, ratings are here. The Big Ten bowl line up, in order, is: Rose, Capital One, Outback, Gator, Buffalo Wild Wings (formerly Insight), Car Care (formerly Texas Bowl), Heart of Dallas (formerly TicketCity), Pizza (formerly Motor City). It is impossible for the conference to have enough eligible teams to fill the Pizza Bowl slot this year, and the Car Care and Heart of Dallas Bowls do not yet have eligible teams either.
Last Week's Results
Northwestern 23, Michigan State 20
Different week, same story.
Michigan 42, Iowa 17
Iowa kept this one mildly interesting through the first 25 minutes or so. Then Michigan scored 28 points in about 16 minutes to put the game well out of reach. Devin Gardner was quite impressive at QB, with a completion percentage north of 75% and 314 yards on just 23 attempts. The win keeps Michigan's faint title hopes alive and eliminates Iowa from bowl contention.
Nebraska 38, Minnesota 14
Not as close as the score indicates - Nebraska scored the first 38 before allowing a pair of garbage time TDs. Minnesota managed just 177 total yards of offense for the game.
Penn State 45, Indiana 22
From "win out and go to Pasadena" to "home for the holidays" in just two weeks. Such is life in the East with two teams serving a postseason ban. Indiana got within six as late as midway through the third quarter before Penn State pulled away.
Ohio State 21, Wisconsin 14 (OT)
Another narrow escape for the Buckeyes keeps their outside shot at an AP title alive. Wisconsin scored with just 8 seconds left in regulation to force OT, but Ohio State moved the ball almost effortlessly for a touchdown to start OT and Wisconsin couldn't answer.
Purdue 20, Illinois 17
Purdue remains alive for a bowl game with the win. Three turnovers doomed Illinois, with one more chance (against Northwestern) to escape the conference 0-fer.
This Week's Games
Nebraska @ Iowa
When: Noon ET on Friday, on ABC
What's at stake for Nebraska: Win and they guarantee themselves a spot in Indianapolis. Lose and they can still get there if Ohio State takes care of business against Michigan, but it's no longer in their hands. Should they fail to reach Pasadena, Nebraska will probably be in the Capital One Bowl (if they beat Iowa and Michigan loses to OSU, Michigan cannot jump them since Nebraska will have two more wins), though if they back into the title game (or Nebraska wins and Michigan upsets Ohio State) and lose it, Michigan could pass them and drop them to the Outback. If there is a lot of chaos among the top 14, Nebraska could potentially lose the title game and be available as a BCS at-large, but the odds are seriously against it.
What's at stake for Iowa: Pride, and the Heroes Trophy.
No-margin system says: Nebraska, 85%
Margin-aware says: Nebraska, 85% / 11.5 points
Michigan @ Ohio State
When: Noon ET on Saturday, ABC
What's at stake for Michigan: If Nebraska wins on Friday, the stakes are considerably lower, but there's still an outside chance of creeping into the top 14 and getting a BCS at-large if they beat Ohio State. Most likely, however, a win over Ohio State (if Nebraska wins) would put them in the Capital One Bowl ahead of the title game loser. If Nebraska loses, however, a win would vault Michigan into the title game against Wisconsin. If Michigan loses, they're still likely headed to the Capital One if Nebraska wins the title game but would fall to the Outback if Nebraska beats Iowa but loses to Wisconsin.
What's at stake for Ohio State: A perfect (but bowlless) season and an outside chance at an AP title despite the postseason ban (though this isn't especially likely; AP voters will probably reward the BCS title game winner instead, even with a loss).
No-margin system says: Ohio State, 81%
Margin-aware says: Ohio State, 85% / 11.5 points
Michigan State @ Minnesota
When: 3:30 ET on Saturday, BTN
What's at stake for Michigan State: Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl or bust. (A win would put us even with Minnesota at 6-6, and Purdue isn't likely to jump us if they beat Indiana and become eligible.)
What's at stake for Minnesota: A win puts them in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl as well (maybe the Gator if Northwestern loses to Illinois, but that's extremely unlikely to happen and they're not that likely to jump Northwestern even if it does). With a loss, they probably still get selected ahead of Purdue (if Purdue is eligible) and they go to the Car Care Bowl.
No-margin system says: Minnesota, 52%
Margin-aware says: Michigan State, 63% / 3.5 points
Indiana @ Purdue
When: Noon ET on Saturday, BTN (regional split)
What's at stake for Indiana: Taking back the Old Oaken Bucket.
What's at stake for Purdue: A win gets them to the Car Care or Heart of Dallas Bowl (the latter is only possible if Minnesota loses to MSU). Lose and they're home for the holidays.
No-margin system says: Purdue, 66%
Margin-aware says: Purdue, 64% / 3.5 points
Illinois @ Northwestern
When: Noon ET on Saturday, BTN (regional split)
What's at stake for Illinois: Trying to avoid a winless conference season, and getting a trophy that looks like an oversized Monopoly playing piece.
What's at stake for Northwestern: Not much, really. They're just about locked into the Gator Bowl. A win plus two Wisconsin losses could even bump them as high as the Outback (at 9-3, it would be mandatory to select them ahead of 7-6 Wisconsin). On the other side, it's possible that Minnesota could jump them if they win and Northwestern loses, but even with Northwestern's worse-than-deserved reputation for travel it's hard to see the Gator reaching for a Minnesota team with a worse record, head-to-head loss, and not a spectacular draw themselves.
No-margin system says: Northwestern, 93%
Margin-aware says: Northwestern, 98% / 27 points
Wisconsin @ Penn State
When: 3:30 ET on Saturday, ESPN2
What's at stake for Wisconsin: They're already locked into the title game, but should they lose that game this could affect their bowl positioning. Lose both and they're 7-6 and very likely in the Gator Bowl. Beat Penn State but lose to Nebraska and they probably stay ahead of Northwestern for the Outback Bowl.
What's at stake for Penn State: Second place outright in the division or a tie. That's about it.
No-margin system says: Penn State, 57%
Margin-aware says: Penn State, 66% / 4.5 points
Who's Going to Pasadena?
Getting to Indy
Nebraska just has to win or have Michigan lose to Ohio State. No-margin puts their chances at 97.1%, margin-aware at 97.7%.
Michigan needs to pull the road upset and hope Iowa can upset Nebraska at home. Their odds of reaching Indy are 2.9% according to the no-margin method, 2.3% by margin-aware.
Possible Matchups in Indy
Nebraska is favored over Wisconsin at 73% / 63% / 3.5 (no-margin / margin-aware / margin). Michigan is slightly less of a favorite at 63% / 53% / 1.
Probability of Rose Bowl Appearance
Nebraska: 71.0% / 61.7%
Wisconsin: 27.2% / 37.1%
Michigan: 1.8% / 1.2%