We are now entering the final week of the college football regular season! That’s right, championship week is upon us! Who will be in the Big Ten Championship this season? Well, we don’t really know yet.
While the two teams at the top of the East Division are fairly straightforward, it’s been chaos in the West all season. Early on, Minnesota was the team to beat. At the time, Illinois appeared to be the only competent team in the field. Now, heading into last week’s pivotal moment, the division’s leading team is… Iowa?
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No, that can’t be right! The same Iowa team with an offense that looks like they could be surpassed by some of these teams at the Worlds this year? Those Hawkeyes?
Yes. Those Hawkeyes.
After a torrid November that included three key victories over other West Division rivals, the Hawkeyes hold the clearest path to the Big Ten championship game. However, all is not said and done. Nothing ever comes easy for this Iowa team, opening the door for a few other teams to make it to the championship game.
With such a jam in the department, sorting through all the clutter can be confusing. “What scenario must happen for my favorite team to make it to the championship game?” Well, dear viewer, we have just the guide for you. Here’s your ultimate breakdown of the Big Ten scenario for the final week of play.
Big Ten East: Ohio State vs. Michigan
Considering the potential conference championship opponent representing the East Division, it all boils down to the game. The greatest game of rivalry in college football and possibly the best in the sport, Ohio State and Michigan winners will advance to the Big Ten Championship. Both teams are unbeaten and rank in the top three in USA TODAY Sports’ AFCA Coaches Poll. Whoever wins this game is the likely favorite to win the Big Ten and advance to the College Football Playoffs.
Congratulations Hawkeye fans, your team now has the most direct route to the championship there is. Win and you’re in. No hoops to jump through, no watching other games in the locker room hoping for help. That’s it. Beat Nebraska 3-8 and you have your shot at redemption against Ohio State or Michigan.
On paper, of course, that sounds easy.
If the Hawkeyes pull an Iowa and lose to the Cornhuskers, they’ll need both Purdue and Illinois to lose their last few games as well. They also play two basement dwellers in Indiana and the Northwest, so it would probably be in Iowa’s best interest to just do the job themselves.
All right, Boilermaker! You’re not quite out of this race yet, but you’ll need a little help to make it to the big dance. Beating the 4-7 Hoosiers is a must. If you drop this game, that’s it. You can prepare for your spot in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl.
If you beat Indiana, all you have to do is lose Iowa. Iowa is absolutely on fire right now, but they’ve looked beatable all season. Their only win against a ranked team is South Dakota State. Both of those things happen, and you’re in!
Ah, Illinois. Just a few weeks ago it looked like you kept running away with the West. Now you literally need all the help you can get. Beating the 1-10 Wildcats really shouldn’t be much of a problem. I mean, you just nailed Michigan, the problem is the other scenarios that have to go your way.
Not only does Iowa have to lose to Nebraska, but Purdue has to drop their matchup as well. It’s not an impossible situation at all, the Big Ten West Division has been insane all season, but it’s the most unlikely. That loss to Indiana earlier in the season really hurts now.
Minnesota, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Northwest
Hello Minnesota, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Northwestern fans. Thanks for reading to the end, you really are a star! The path to the Big Ten championship is very easy for your team.
Dust off your PS3, or your Xbox 360 if you’re less fortunate, and fire up that copy of NCAA 14 that I hope you’ve kept all these years. Jump into Dynasty mode, choose your favorite team, and you might find it beneficial to keep the difficulty on Novice.
Unfortunately, there is no real world scenario where you win the Big Ten championship. I hate to break the news to you, especially you hopeful Northwest fans, although you and Nebraska supporters can take comfort in the fact that you may be able to play spoilers this final week. Badger and Gopher fans will have to watch as their two teams battle it out for “pride.”
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