Still Frontrunner: Michigan State
Coming off a bye, MSU can all but assure itself a ticket to Indy by beating Nebraska for the first time in school history this week. Two of the Spartans' last three games are
on the road at Lincoln and at a neutral site, and the home finale against Minnesota isn't looking like the gimme most assumed it would be either, but MSU is still undefeated in the conference and in control for the moment.
Still #1 Contender: Nebraska
Nebraska's big win at Michigan last week puts the Huskers in prime position to upend Michigan State and seize control of the division for themselves. The injury toll has become severe for the Huskers, and beating MSU down so many offensive starters will be difficult even in the friendly confines of Memorial Stadium, but the Huskers' recent defensive improvement and outstanding play by Ameer Abdullah leaves plenty of room for optimism.
Still Alive: Minnesota
Left for dead after back-to-back division losses to open the conference season, Minnesota has since lain in the weeds, kneecapping one opponent after another with a run-heavy offense and surprisingly stout defense. The Gophers do not control their own destiny, but with a win in hand against Nebraska and the chance to conclude the regular season by taking down frontrunner Michigan State, the season's results to this point imply that overlooking the Gophers would be a big mistake.
Yeah, No, But Dallas Will Be Nice In December: Iowa
With 3 conference losses already, including the head-to-head loss to MSU, Iowa's aspirations for the conference title are hereby buried. Coming off an emotional blowout of TMHR, Iowa settles in for a bye before hosting Michigan and traveling to Nebraska; the Heroes Game in Lincoln could be for nothing more than bowl positioning, or could present the Hawkeyes a chance to spoil Nebraska's championship dreams.
Something Something Fire Everybody Scrap The Program: Michigan
The home loss to Nebraska last week, the first loss in Michigan Stadium during Brady Hoke's tenure, put the final nail in Michigan's coffin. The Wolverines have a pair of road games against Northwestern and Iowa to try and pull themselves together before getting a shot to ruin what will likely be another undefeated regular season-to-be when OSU comes to town for The Game. Look on the bright side, there will probably still be a decent bowl available thanks to that brand name, so. Silver linings, right?
Excited About Basketball Season? Yikes: Northwestern
At least the bye week didn't feature any more heart-wrenching losses or devastating injuries, since this season's had about five years' worth of both. Still, pulverized expectations notwithstanding, Northwestern can get to bowl eligibility by winning two of its last three- home tilts with Michigan and Michigan State followed by a trip to Illinois. Michigan has the look of a broken team, Illinois is only slightly better than [REDACTED], and of course, Northwestern does have that tendency to sting teams they don't appear to have any logical reason to beat, so maybe that rears its head at the worst time for MSU.
Scenarios: Here we run, quickly, through the ways for the remaining contending teams to secure the division.
MSU: W vs Neb, W one of two remaining games or L vs Neb, win at least one more game than Neb in last 2 weeks
Neb: W vs MSU, win at least one more game than MSU in last 2 weeks
Minny: Win out, MSU loses at least one more game, Neb loses at least one more game