Big Ten rooting interests: Week 11

The regular season is winding down, which means rooting interests is back. For those unfamiliar with this post, it examines the Big Ten's contenders for certain goals -- national championship, BCS at-large berth and division titles -- and what they should root for in the upcoming weekend of games. It will appear every Thursday or Friday the next few weeks.

For BCS at-large berths, I'm considering only teams currently in the BCS standings. So Michigan and Nebraska still have work to do.

Let's get started ...


B1G candidate: Ohio State (9-0, 6-0 Big Ten)

Buckeyes should root for ...

  • Stanford to beat Oregon on Thursday night. The Ducks are a spot ahead of the Buckeyes in the BCS standings and would fall below them with a loss. Although one-loss Stanford could be a threat down the road, an undefeated Ohio State should remain ahead of the Cardinal as long as it keeps winning.

  • Oklahoma to beat Baylor on Thursday night. Although Baylor is behind Ohio State in the standings, a loss would take the Bears out of the title mix.

  • LSU to beat Alabama on Saturday. A loss would knock the two-time defending national champs from the top spot in the BCS standings and would likely eliminate the mighty SEC from the title picture, at least for now.

  • Wake Forest to beat Florida State. The Seminoles are No. 2 in the current BCS standings, and a loss to middling Wake would eliminate Jimbo Fisher's crew in the chase for the crystal football.


B1G candidates: Michigan State (8-1, 5-0); Wisconsin (6-2, 4-1)

The Spartans and Badgers should root for ...

  • Oregon to beat Stanford. A second loss could eliminate Stanford from at-large contention, although the Rose Bowl would want a Pac-12 team if it loses Oregon to the national title game. The best-case scenario for the Big Ten's at-large hopefuls would be an Oregon win this week and then a Ducks loss later in the season, leaving Oregon as the Pac-12's lone BCS representative in the Rose Bowl.

  • Pitt to beat Notre Dame. The Irish will hang around as a BCS possibility until they suffer their third loss. Although a Notre Dame loss doesn't help Michigan State's computer numbers -- the Spartans lost to the Irish on Sept. 21 -- it's better if the Irish are out of the picture.

  • The Oklahoma schools to lose to Baylor and Kansas, respectively. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are the Big 12's best hopes for an at-large BCS berth, but losses this week -- OU is a much likelier candidate -- probably knock them out of the mix.

  • Fresno State and Northern Illinois to lose. Both teams are angling to bust the BCS, and both are in the top 18 of the BCS standings. A Bulldogs loss to Wyoming on Saturday and a Huskies loss to Ball State next Wednesday would eliminate both from contention.


Candidates: Michigan State; Nebraska (6-2, 3-1); Minnesota (7-2, 3-2); Michigan (6-2, 2-2); Iowa (5-4, 2-3)

Michigan State should root for ...

  • Michigan to beat Nebraska. As painful as it is for Spartans fans to pull for the Maize and Blue, a Nebraska loss gives idle Michigan State a two-game lead on everyone else in the division with three weeks to go. The Spartans next visit Nebraska on Nov. 16.

  • Penn State to beat Minnesota. It would give the Gophers three losses -- all in the division -- and essentially eliminate them from the race.

  • Purdue to beat Iowa. The Hawkeyes aren't much of a factor in the division race, but a loss to Purdue would eliminate them.

Michigan and Nebraska should root for ...

  • Losses by both Minnesota and Iowa.

Minnesota should root for ...

  • Michigan to beat Nebraska. This is a tough one as Minnesota would lose a tiebreaker with Michigan but not Nebraska. But the best-case scenario for the Gophers the next two weeks is a Nebraska loss, giving the Huskers two Big Ten losses, and then a Nebraska win against Michigan State, which is 6-0 in league play. Minnesota then could hope for Michigan to lose one of its final three games (Northwestern, Iowa, Ohio State).

  • Purdue to beat Iowa. A loss eliminates the Hawkeyes from division title contention. Minnesota would lose a head-to-head tiebreaker with Iowa because of a Sept. 28 loss.

Iowa should root for ...

  • Losses by Nebraska and Minnesota. The Hawkeyes' only hope for the division is a wild tie atop the standings at 5-3. Iowa still has games against both Nebraska and Michigan and could conceivably hand both teams their third Big Ten losses.


Ohio State is off this week and Wisconsin has a non-league game against BYU, so there aren't any significants rooting interests in the division.