Big Ten rooting interests: Week 13

We're barely two weeks away from championship Saturday and bowl selection Sunday, so it's time once again for rooting interests. This post examines the Big Ten's contenders for three goals -- national championship, BCS at-large berth and division titles -- and what they should root for in the upcoming weekend of games. The Big Ten championship picture is pretty clear as only two teams remain alive in each division.

For BCS at-large berths, I'm considering only teams currently in the BCS standings.

Here we go ...


B1G candidate: No. 3 Ohio State (10-0, 6-0 Big Ten)

The Buckeyes should root for ...

  • Oklahoma State to beat Baylor. This is the big one in Week 13, as a Baylor victory almost certainly would propel the fourth-rated Bears past the third-rated Buckeyes in the BCS standings. Oklahoma State is Baylor's toughest remaining test, and if Art Briles' crew wins in Stillwater, a perfect regular season is definitely within reach.

  • A miracle in Tuscaloosa or Tallahassee. Alabama and Florida State aren't going to lose to Chattanooga and Idaho, respectively, but Ohio State always can hope, right? The Buckeyes already are Auburn fans, as Alabama visits The Plains next week.

  • Arizona to beat Oregon. Ohio State doesn't have to worry too much about the Ducks just yet, but a second loss would knock Oregon completely out of the title picture.

  • Wisconsin and Michigan State to beat Minnesota and Northwestern, respectively. Wins by the Badgers, whom Ohio State beat in September, and the Spartans, the Buckeyes' likely Big Ten title game opponent, only enhance a résumé not being helped by the schedule.


B1G candidates: No. 13 Michigan State (9-1, 6-0); No. 19 Wisconsin (8-2, 5-1); No. 25 Minnesota (8-2, 4-2)

The Spartans, Badgers and Gophers should root for ...

  • The Citadel to beat Clemson. OK, file this in the Chattanooga/Idaho miracle category, as Clemson should easily win this week. But Clemson could be the Big Ten's biggest competition for an at-large berth, so a loss in the next two weeks -- the Tigers visit rival South Carolina on Nov. 30 -- would be big.

  • Baylor to beat Oklahoma State. The Big Ten's at-large hopefuls want only one Big 12 team in a BCS bowl. An Oklahoma State loss would virtually assure this of happening.

  • Arizona to beat Oregon and Stanford to beat California. See above. It's the same deal with the Pac-12.

  • New Mexico to beat Fresno State. Another extreme long shot here, but a Fresno State loss would eliminate the Bulldogs from BCS buster contention. Northern Illinois already won its Week 13 game on Wednesday night at Toledo.

  • Wisconsin should root for Iowa and BYU to beat Michigan and Notre Dame, respectively, as the Badgers lack quality wins and need some help to reach the top 14 of the final BCS standings.


Candidates: Michigan State, Minnesota

Michigan State should root for ...

  • Wisconsin to beat Minnesota. A Gophers loss would eliminate Minnesota from the race and give Michigan State the outright division title, regardless of what happens when the Spartans visit Northwestern.

Minnesota should root for ...

  • Northwestern to beat Michigan State. Minnesota needs a win against Wisconsin and a Michigan State loss to set up a division championship next week when it visits East Lansing.


Candidates: Ohio State, Wisconsin

Ohio State should root for ...

  • Minnesota to beat Wisconsin. A Badgers loss eliminates them from the division race, regardless of how the Ohio State-Indiana game turns out. Ohio State holds the head-to-head tiebreaker against Wisconsin.

Wisconsin should root for ...

  • Indiana to beat Ohio State. The Badgers must win out and have Ohio State to lose its final two games (Indiana, Michigan) to make a third consecutive trip to Indianapolis.