The 2010 Big Ten title race could be absolutely fascinating in the month of November.
The Michigan State Spartans, of course, can make things rather boring by continuing to win games.
Mark Dantonio's team is the Big Ten's only unbeaten squad -- both overall and in conference play -- and controls its own destiny with four regular-season games left. And if the Spartans survive this week at Iowa, they'll be strong favorites to run the table and possibly reach the BCS title game.
If the Spartans lose once, things get interesting.
Before going any further, since many of you have asked, here's the rule of thumb regarding the Big Ten's tiebreaker for the automatic BCS berth: the BCS standings matter.
It doesn't matter which team last went to the Rose Bowl -- that ship sailed long ago. And if ties can't be broken by head-to-head matchups or overall records, it goes to the BCS standings, period.
Everyone wants to know what will happen if there's a three-team tie atop the Big Ten at 7-1.
Here's how it breaks down:
If Michigan State/Wisconsin/Ohio State tie at 7-1: All three teams would have the same overall record (11-1), and Michigan State and Ohio State don't play. The team with the highest ranking in the final BCS standings would get the Big Ten's automatic berth. In my view, that team would be Ohio State.
If Michigan State/Wisconsin/Iowa tie at 7-1: This presumes that both Iowa and Wisconsin win out. Each team has a win against the other. Iowa would be eliminated because of its inferior overall record (10-2 vs. 11-1). Michigan State holds the head-to-head advantage against Wisconsin and would gain the automatic BCS berth.
Also, since Michigan State and Ohio State don't play ...
If Michigan State and Ohio State tie at 7-1: Since both teams would have the same overall record (11-1), the team ranked higher in the BCS standings would get the automatic berth. I believe that team would be Ohio State.
All the other 7-1 tiebreakers can be determined on head-to-head basis.
Enjoy the ride.