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The Road to Indy – Week 4

October 22, 2012

 

Both the Legends and Leaders division races got a lot clearer on Saturday.  Here’s how everything shook out.  

Michigan 12 Michigan State 10

With a last second field goal Michigan effectively ended any chances MSU had of returning to the Big Ten Championship game.  The Spartans now have 3 losses in the conference and are closer to being bowl ineligible (they need two wins in their last four games) than they are to the Legends Division title.  For Michigan, they are now the only unbeaten team in conference play in the Legends division at 3-0.  A road game at Nebraska this week will be a huge test – but one that will give Michigan an almost insurmountable lead in the division if they win.  

Wisconsin 38 Minnesota 13

Wisconsin extended their 3 game win streak against the bottom half of the Big Ten, and in doing so nearly assured themselves of a trip to Indianapolis.  Minnesota suffered their 3rd straight loss, and needs to right the ship fast if they want to turn their 4-0 start into bowl eligibility.  Looking at the schedule of Purdue, Michigan @Illinois, @Nebraska and home for MSU, its tough to see 2 more wins, but its possible.  As for Wisconsin, they have a 2.5 game lead on Purdue and hold the tiebreaker, which means they probably only need to win one more game (and possibly none) in order to head to Indianapolis for the Big Ten Title game.   With reeling MSU heading to Madison this weekend and Indiana still on the schedule, that shouldn’t be too hard.  

Ohio State 29 Purdue 22 

The Buckeyes continue their winning ways and are now 4-0 in conference and 8-0 overall.  Sadly for them, it doesn’t matter how many games they win as their eligibility status has not changed.  The overtime win at home against Purdue was heartbreaking for the Boilermakers in two ways.  First, it was a game Purdue thought they had won.  Second, it dropped the Boilermakers to 0-3 in conference and probably was the final nail in the coffin for their Leaders Division championship hopes.  They now trail Wisconsin by 2.5 games in the division, and the Badgers also hold the tiebreaker.  At this point Purdue would have to go 5-0 to finish the season while Wisconsin went 1-3; a highly unlikely scenario.  Barring an epic collapse by the Badgers, Wisconsin will be in Indianapolis.  As for Purdue, the best they can hope for now is bowl seeding.  This week they travel to Minnesota for a winnable game that could end a 3 game losing streak.  The Buckeyes head to Happy Valley to take on Penn State in the Ineligible Bowl. 

Penn State 38 Iowa 14

In a somewhat surprising outcome, Iowa was blasted at home by Penn State, who was supposed to be rebuilding and unable to win 3 games this year.  They are up to 5-2 and 3-0 in conference.  Normally next week’s Penn State vs. Ohio State game would be an epic battle for first place in the Leaders Division.  Instead, it’s a game that has no bearing on anything whatsoever.  Seriously – they could let cheerleaders, mascots and alumni play and it wouldn’t matter since both schools can’t play in the postseason.  As for Iowa, after their surprising win in East Lansing last week had them tied for the Legends Division lead, they now have fallen one game behind Michigan and still have to travel to Ann Arbor and take on Nebraska at home.  They certainly aren’t out of it yet, as even 6-2 with a victory over Michigan or Nebraska could land them in Indianapolis.  But a 24 point drubbing at home doesn’t instill much confidence. 

Nebraska 29 Northwestern 28

In a game with significant implications for the Legends Division, Nebraska staged a late comeback to steal a victory on the road at Evanston.  Nebraska came back from 12 down with under 8 minutes to play to win the game and keep their Legends Division chances alive.  A loss to Northwestern would’ve been the Huskers 2nd; and with Michigan, MSU, Penn State and Iowa still on the schedule remaining unbeaten was unlikely.  For Northwestern, this wasn’t a death knell to their Legends Division chances, but it was a huge blow.  The Wildcats now sit with 2 losses in conference and still must travel to Ann Arbor and East Lansing in back to back weeks.  They’ll need to win out in order to end up in Indianapolis.  For the Huskers, they now face a huge game against Michigan this weekend at home. A win, and they’ll jump to the top of the Legends standings and will hold the tiebreaker over Michigan.  A loss, and Michigan will have a 2 game lead over Nebraska and hold the tiebreaker – which means Nebraska would need Michigan to lose 3 of the last 4 to win the division.  The winner of Saturday night’s game has a very good chance of representing the division in Indianapolis.    

Navy 31 Indiana 30

Not going to spend a lot of time on this.  Indiana, though better than past years, still isn’t good enough to close out games they should.  In this one they blew a 30-21 4th quarter lead to lose to the Midshipmen.  And with it went any chance of a postseason bowl for the Hoosiers.  

LEGENDS STANDINGS

Michigan 3-0

Nebraska 2-1

Iowa 2-1

Northwestern 2-2

MSU 1-3

Minnesota 0-3

LEADERS STANDINGS

Ohio State 4-0

Penn State 3-0

Wisconsin 3-1

Purdue 0-3

Illinois 0-3

Indiana 0-3

 

BIG TEN TITLE GAME PREDICTION: Michigan vs. Wisconsin

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