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THE BIG TEN WEST: HOW IOWA FOOTBALL CAN RETURN TO INDIANAPOLIS

After a rollicking victory over Ohio State, a division title is still plausible.

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

After a pedestrian win against Minnesota whilst staring down the barrel of two top-ten opponents, talk of a division title seemed bleak. But after a win - and to call it only a “win” does it a disservice - against an Ohio State team which figured to be the best opponent on Iowa’s schedule, it seems like as good of a time as any to take a look at the slim chance Iowa has at winning a division.

Here’s how things currently stand.

Big Ten West

  1. Wisconsin Badgers: 6-0, 9-0; vs. Iowa, vs. Michigan, at Minnesota
  2. Northwestern Wildcats: 4-2, 6-3; vs. Purdue, vs. Minnesota, at Illinois
  3. Iowa Hawkeyes: 3-3, 6-3; at Wisconsin, vs. Purdue, at Nebraska
  4. Nebraska Cornhuskers: 3-3, 4-5; at Minnesota, at Penn State, vs. Iowa
  5. Purdue Boilermakers: 2-4, 4-5; at Northwestern, at Iowa, vs. Indiana
  6. Minnesota Golden Gophers: 1-5, 4-5; vs. Nebraska, at Northwestern, vs. Wisconsin
  7. Illinois Fighting Illini: 0-6, 2-7; vs. Indiana, at Ohio State, vs. Northwestern

And here are the tiebreakers:

Wisconsin Wins If...

...they beat Iowa. They’d lock up the West this weekend. However, if they lose to Iowa this weekend, they can go 1-1 in their other two games and still have the division in the bag. Only a three game losing streak would keep Wisconsin out of Indianapolis for the B1G Championship Game.

Northwestern Wins If...

...they win out and Wisconsin loses out. Since Wisconsin would hold the tiebreaker (a) if both tie at 7-2.

Iowa Wins If...

...they win out, Wisconsin loses out, and Northwestern loses another game. Under such a scenario, it becomes a three-team tie atop the West and each team as 1-1 against each other. In that event, it would go to the (b)-2.

Iowa would then win the division because they’d be 5-1 against the division and Wisconsin and Northwestern would be tied at 4-2. As I mentioned at the beginning of the year, this is the red herring of “tough crossover games.”

If Northwestern loses at least two games and Iowa wins out/Wisconsin loses out, it is Iowa’s division by (a).

Nebraska Wins If...

...nothing. Because both Wisconsin and Northwestern beat Nebraska, they would be eliminated by (b)-1 if the Cornhuskers tie anyone at 6-3.

So you’re telling me there’s a chance?

It is still Wisconsin’s division to lose and they would need to do something they haven’t done - lose three games in a row in one season - since 2008. But hey, a chance is a chance.