With four weeks left to secure a trip to Indianapolis, both divisions have contenders, pretenders, and teams just happy to not be completely eliminated yet. This is a handy guide to deciphering where each non-sanctioned team lies and the chances of that team going to Indianapolis.
While it is difficult to believe, there are only four weeks left in the regular season for the Big Ten. Of course, that means that it's that time of year where the contenders are coming into focus and the frauds are being brought to light. With that in mind, I thought it would be appropriate to look at each non-sanctioned team and group them into tiers of their chances of making it to Indianapolis. Looking at the scenarios each team is in from worst to first in each division follows after this.
Lame Leaders Division
Look, before I even get into the teams, I just want to point out how lucky Wisconsin is. They have a complete mess of an offense with certain atrocities about to happen with DOB under center and they will probably still get to Indianapolis. Due to some *ahem* issues we've followed ad nauseum, Regardless, it is worth pointing out that despite this certain truth, the Leaders division is also the only division with a team completely out of contention for making it to Indianapolis. That brings us to our first tier. (Conference record in parentheses)
Gone Baby Gone:
There is no scenario where you will make it to Indianapolis. I'd feel bad for you, but a fairly arrogant Beck took a team with NFL talent and have made it into a complete dumpster fire. There really are not enough ways to talk about how awful this team is. With that said, I have very little doubt they will manage to screw over someone on their schedule because, well, why wouldn't they.
Chances of making it to Indy: 0%
Breathing... Kind of
Look, it is mathematically possible for Purdue to make it to Indianapolis, but its a scenario that includes winning out and pretty much everyone else in the division losing everything. It will not happen, but it can happen I suppose. With four weeks left, Purdue is pretty much in a stay-in-bowl-contention mode more than anything else. Even that is probably a bit too big of a hill to climb. If I were Coach Hope, I'd be polishing up the old resume. Who thought we'd be saying that now back during the Notre Dame game?
Chances of Going to Indianapolis: 0.5%
Wait, legitimately they have a chance?
Indiana, with one conference win, is legitimately in control of their own destiny. Since they get Wisconsin left, they can truly win their way to the CCG. Of course, Indiana has only beaten Illinois, so the chances of this go down significantly against teams with pulses. Still, Indiana has a chance to go to Indiana. Illinois does not. Well played Wilson, well played.
Chances of making it to Indianapolis: 25%
We Really Suck if We're Not in Indy
Look, Wisconsin has to beat Indiana to make it to Indy. I don't know about anyone else, but those are some pretty good odds. Also, Wisconsin could lose to Indiana but win their other two games remaining and still make it to Indianapolis if Indiana loses to Iowa and Penn State. In fact, there are so many scenarios for Wisconsin making it that Badger fans should feel pretty confident in booking flights to watch the Badgers play for a trip to Pasadena. Of course, DOB sucks. That is a wildcard nobody wants to bet on.
Chances of making it to Indianapolis: 74.4%
The Legends Division
This division is a little bit more complex because there are not two teams ineligible for postseason play and there are currently no teams officially eliminated from consideration. Of course, that doesn't mean that all team's chances are really good. Have I mentioned this year's B1G is nothing amazing? Because if I haven't, now would be a good time to acknowledge that.
So You're Saying There's a Chance
Congratulations MInnesota, you are not mathematically eliminated from making it to Indianapolis to represent the Legends. However, if you make it, the parity in the league will have officially hit critical mass, and there is an excellent chance Emperor Delany goes crazy and does stuff he will regret in the morning. Still, to be on this list and to have a '1' in the win column, things could be worse. You take that and build on it. Congrats to Coach Kill in what looks like a team on the right track. However, this team is not going to Indianapolis. Too tough a schedule.
Chances of making it to Indianapolis: 5%
Michigan State (2-3)
Michigan State can still make it it to Indianapolis with their huge win over Wisconsin last weekend. The biggest hindrance to the Spartans is that they do not really own good tie-breakers. With Nebraska at home this weekend, the Spartans slim hopes of getting back to Indy are on the line. This is not what most of us expected out of the Spartans, huh?
Chances of making it to Indianapolis: 5%
Despite their overall 4-4 records, the Hawkeyes are actually still in this thing. It helps that both wins have come at the expense of division foes giving them the tie-breaker over both Michigan State and Minnesota. With that said, the closing stretch for Iowa is brutal with Michigan and Nebraska at the end. On an upside? Each game is totally winnable. Downside? With the loss to Northwestern, Iowa does not control their own destiny. Also, it appears that JVB and Greg Davis equals world's worst offense to watch.
Chances of making it to Indianapolis: 6%
With a Little Help From My Friends, I'm Totally There
I will admit that I wasn't exactly expecting this team to be in contention for the title at this point in the season. With a 7-2 record and a very winnable closing stretch, this team is poised to sneak in the back door. The biggest hindrance is that Nebraska holds the tie-breaker. As Wildcat fans take the weekend off, the collective Spartan spirit will rise exponentially. No matter what happens, though, this has been a pretty thrilling season for Northwestern. Now if they can only hold on to those 4th Quarter leads...
Chances of making it to Indianapolis: 15%
First off, Michigan needs to make sure Denard can hold a football. Once that is established, they basically need to run Denard on a sweep until the cows come home. With that said, Michigan is actually in an okay spot even with the Nebraska loss. With a slightly less awful schedule, the Wolverines can win out and just hope for one Nebraska loss to MSU, PSU, Minny, or Iowa. There is an excellent chance that happens. On the other hand, Michigan does not control its own destiny. I have no qualms with that.
Chances of making it to Indianapolis: 30%
Okay, Now Just Don't Blow It
I am happy to say that Nebraska controls its own destiny still. With wins over Michigan and Northwestern and with games still to come against Iowa and MInnesota, Nebraska can definitely pull the miracle season off and play for Pasadena in December. As I have mentioned throughout this piece, however, is that the schedule does them no favors either. Nebraska is absolutely capable of winning out and playing for their first Conference Title since 1999. Of course, that means playing with expectations which is this team's downfall usually. If Nebraska's offense can keep scoring and the rejuvenated defense can keep from imploding, this team is going places.
Chances of making it to Indianapolis: 39%