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Big Ten State of the Race 2016: Can Anyone Catch Michigan and Ohio State in the East?

Is the East Division the home of the two best—and two worst—teams in the country?

Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

We’ve reached the halfway point of the season and appear to have clear separation at the top of the East. As expected, Michigan and Ohio State are way out ahead of everybody. Surprisingly, Michigan State forgot they were supposed to be up there too and has been bad. Not quite Rutgers Bad, but still bad. Using Bill Connelly’s Advanced Stat Profiles, we get the following projected records.

Nate Peterson

Michigan is favored in every game the rest of the way. S&P+ is giving the Wolverines a 61% chance of winning in Columbus. That, along with already beating Penn State and avoiding Nebraska, gives the Fighting Harbaughs the inside track to the East Crown. The winner of The Game MI-anOSU will likely represent the East in Indianapolis on December 5th.

Penn State still has an outside chance but will need to beat Ohio State this weekend. The Nittany Lions will need Michigan to lose twice as they will not win a three-way tie (step 5).

B1G Football Tiebreaker rules
B1G Conference

A three way tie between MI, OSU, and PSU at 8-1 will go all the way to step 5 before eliminating Penn State due to having one more loss. OSU would have the victory over Michigan sending the Buckeyes to Indy.

Everyone else in the East has at least 2 losses, pretty much eliminating them from the division crown. The more interesting race, in my opinion, is at the bottom of the division. MSU and Rutgers are a combined 0-7 and are not favored in any game not between these two the rest of the way. MSU’s best chances at wins are RU (81%), @IL (47%), and @MD (36%). Rutgers best chances are @MSU (19%), IU (14%), and @MD (13%) . If Maryland loses to both MSU and Rutgers they, too, may find themselves in basement.

The biggest games with respect to the East race this weekend are Ohio State at Penn State and Michigan State at Maryland. While Indiana at Northwestern will determine if Indiana is closer to the dregs or the top, it won’t have much of an impact on who wins or loses the East.