It has certainly been an interesting year for the Big Ten — and that’s not including the scandals.
Even though IU has struggled and won’t play in a bowl game, many other conference teams will.
But before they get there, two teams must go through Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship game.
Who will win each division? Which team will represent the conference in the Rose Bowl? Here are my predictions.
No. 13 Michigan State (7-2, 4-1) has certainly been the class of the division, but the Spartans laid a bit of an egg against No. 19 Nebraska a couple of weeks ago. The Spartans are still the favorite to win a division title — especially since they have IU and Northwestern still on the schedule — but don’t hand it to them just yet.
No. 22 Michigan (7-2, 3-2) still has an outside chance, but the Wolverines’ loss to the Spartans means they need Michigan State to lose at least two of its final three games.
The Cornhuskers (7-2, 3-2) benefit from their win against the Spartans, but they have a tough remaining schedule that includes No. 12 Penn State, Michigan and Iowa.
Iowa (6-3,3-2), a team nobody seems to be talking about, will take the division crown if it wins against Michigan State, Purdue and Nebraska. But that would mean the same team would have to show up each week, and that’s been a problem for the Hawkeyes.
Their win against Michigan last week was impressive, but their loss to Minnesota a week earlier was incredibly disappointing. The Hawkeyes will upset Michigan State this weekend, but they’ll lose one of their final two games and the Spartans will end up in Indianapolis next month.
CHAMPION: Michigan State
Speaking strictly about football, Penn State has been one of college football’s biggest surprises. The No. 12 Nittany Lions (8-1, 5-0) are the only undefeated team in the Big Ten, though they’ve had average quarterback play all season.
Of the teams I’ve seen in person this season, Penn State was by far the least impressive. Yes, it has a good defense. But I don’t think the Nittany Lions have enough offense to win a conference title — especially with games against Nebraska, Ohio State and No. 16 Wisconsin remaining on the schedule.
I’m still a little bit shocked Wisconsin (7-2, 3-2) isn’t undefeated. I expected the Badgers to have a chance to play for a national championship and I assumed they would roll through their regular season schedule.
Even after losses to Michigan State and Ohio State, the Badgers still have a legitimate chance to win the division. They play Minnesota and Illinois the next two weeks before a showdown against Penn State that could decide who plays in the Big Ten title game.
The Buckeyes still have a good chance to win the division, but I don’t see them continuing to win games without a reliable passing game. The Leaders Division will come down to Penn State vs. Wisconsin on Nov. 26.
After a couple hiccups, the Badgers will get it together and roll past the Nittany
BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIP
Michigan State and Wisconsin played an instant classic the first time they met in 2011, but this one won’t live up to the hype. After falling 37-31 on the game’s final play the first time around, the Badgers will come out angry and take it to the Spartans early.
This time, though, they’ll hold the lead and play in the Rose Bowl for the second consecutive year.
PREDICTION: Wisconsin 38, Michigan State 20