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Big Ten State of the Race 2016: The West is Nebraska’s to Lose

Can the rest of the Quadrangle change that?

NCAA Football: Minnesota at Nebraska Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

The West Race is far more interesting than the East. Nebraska and Wisconsin appear to be the top two contenders in the West with Minnesota, Iowa, and Northwestern just behind. Illinois and Purdue are in a battle for the bottom, with Purdue holding the head-to-head advantage.

Bill Connelly’s Advanced Stat Profiles give us the following projected records.

Nate Peterson

Nebraska has the early lead, being the only team with a perfect conference record. However, the Cornhuskers haven’t beaten a conference foe with a winning record. Wisconsin is not far behind even with two conference losses. The Badgers are favored in all of their remaining games and have a good shot at the division title unless Nebraska upsets Ohio State.

Minnesota, Iowa, and Northwestern are all lurking in the weeds, hoping the Huskers and Badgers slip. Iowa and Northwestern have a leg up on the Gophers, but favorable cross-overs push the Gophers slightly ahead at this point. Northwestern has a win over Iowa while Iowa has a win over Minnesota. Minnesota is currently favored to beat Northwestern. All of these teams will need help to win the West, namely Nebraska losing multiple times.

Illinois is expected to finish ahead of Purdue, but the Boilermakers hold the tiebreaker if they do finish with the same record.

All of the teams below Nebraska need outside help to win the division. Fortunately for them, Nebraska has a date in Columbus on November 5th. If Nebraska comes out victorious, they are likely heading to Indy.

The big game for the West this weekend is Wisconsin at Iowa. An Iowa win likely knocks Wisconsin out of the Race and drastically improves Iowa’s chances. If Wisconsin wins, Iowa’s reign as West Champs will be over. Northwestern hosting Indiana will tell us if Northwestern has overcome their poor start or if they are going to struggle towards bowl eligibility.