Brace yourself. November will be a wild ride in the Big Ten.
Four Big Ten squads enter November with one conference loss, and all four teams want to emerge from the month the exact same way. We could see as many as three teams finish atop the Big Ten at 7-1 in league play. It's also possible, albeit unlikely, that a 6-2 squad finds its way to the Rose Bowl.
Let's set the scene: No. 9 Wisconsin, No. 11 Ohio State, No. 14 Michigan State and No. 16 Iowa all have one Big Ten loss.
Wisconsin: beat both Iowa and Ohio State, lost to Michigan State
Michigan State: beat Wisconsin, lost to Iowa and doesn't play Ohio State
Iowa: beat Michigan State, lost to Wisconsin and hosts Ohio State on Nov. 20
Ohio State: lost to Wisconsin, visits Iowa on Nov. 20 and doesn't play Michigan State
OK, moving onto the tiebreaking procedures to determine the Big Ten's automatic BCS berth, which, barring a surprise, will be to the Rose Bowl.
Many of you are wondering about the tiebreakers, so please read carefully.
If two teams are tied: Head-to-head result is the first tiebreaker, followed by overall record and then highest-ranked team in the final BCS standings
Example: If Ohio State and Michigan State both are tied at 7-1, the team ranked higher in the final BCS standings would earn the berth because the teams would have identical overall records (11-1) and didn't play each other
If three teams are tied, here are the tiebreakers in order ...
If one team beat both of the other teams, it earns the berth
If two teams beat the third team, the third team is eliminated and the two-team tiebreaker commences
If two teams haven't played, overall record is used to eliminate. If one team has a better overall mark than the other two, it earns the berth. If one team is eliminated because of a weaker overall record, the other teams revert to the two-team tiebreaker.
If all three teams have the same overall record, the team ranked highest in the final BCS standings earns the berth
If Michigan State, Wisconsin and Iowa tie at 7-1, Iowa would be eliminated because of a weaker overall record (10-2 vs. 11-1). The two-team tiebreaker then goes into effect and Michigan State would win based on its head-to-head victory against Wisconsin.
If Michigan State, Wisconsin and Ohio State tie at 7-1: All three teams would have the same overall record (11-1), and because Michigan State and Ohio State don't play, the team with the highest ranking in the final BCS standings gets the berth.
This should cover it, but please let me know if something isn't clear.