- Beat Northwestern, of course.
- Root for Ohio State to remain undefeated by beating Illinois (the Michigan-Wisconsin game is irrelevant).
- Root for Minnesota to salvage a shred of respectability by beating Iowa.
- If you can stomach it, root for Purdue to hand MSU its sixth loss.
Obviously, nothing went our way. We lost to Northwestern. Ohio State damaged its BCS chances by losing to Illinois (and the ascendancy of our former cellar companion is not good for IU, either). Further, what I said about Michigan last week wasn't really accurate. Until the loss to Wisconsin, Michigan had a shot at a BCS at large bid even if OSU wins the big game. But now, with only eight wins, Michigan will not be eligible for an at-large bid if they lose to OSU. Minnesota competed with Iowa, but did not win, so Iowa now has six wins. Purdue, really surprisingly to me, lost big at home to MSU, which also has six wins. So, the Big Ten now looks like this:
- Bowl eligible with seven or more wins (6): OSU, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Penn State, Purdue.
- Conditionally bowl eligible with six wins (4): Iowa, Northwestern, Michigan State, Indiana.
In the order of likelihood of reaching seven wins, I would say: 1) Iowa (Western Michigan); 2) Michigan State (Penn State); 3) Indiana (Purdue); 4) Northwestern (at Illinois). As before, it is now likely that Iowa will get its seventh win and therefore would trump any of the six-win teams. Now that Michigan State has six wins, it is highly unlikely that any other six-win team will get a Big Ten tie-in, as the Motor City Bowl is overwhelmingly likely to select the home-state Spartans (who haven't played in a bowl in four years). Just like last year, IU needs to beat Purdue to go to a bowl. If we lose, we almost certainly will be left out. I'll update the overall standings to be sure. And frankly, at 6-6, we don't deserve it. We currently are tied for ninth in the Big Ten, despite the Big Ten's easiest schedule. We are tied for ninth with MSU, a team that humiliated us. But, if we win the Bucket, all is forgiven, and we likely will end up in some unfilled bowl slot outside the Big Ten's tie-ins. So, the priorities for this week:
- Win the Bucket;
- Root for Michigan to upset OSU, which despite a two-game losing streak still would have a chance at a BCS at-large, especially with so many TV-unfriendly teams (Connecticut, Kansas, Missouri, etc.) in the mix;
- Root for WMU (3-7) to pull an upset at Iowa. Unlikely, but stranger things have happened.
- Root for Illinois to beat Northwestern, keeping the Wildcats at six wins.
- Root for Penn State to beat MSU for the same reason.