Big Ten mailblog

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Rich from Denver writes: Adam, consider this set of results: Illinois wins out. OSU beats Iowa, Iowa wins the rest of their games. Michigan beats Wisco (a stretch, but possible). Wisco wins the rest of their games. Michigan beats OSU (again, a real stretch, but possible). PSU beats MSU after MSU beats Minn & PU. The result is a 5-way tie at 6-2. Puzzle that one out, Adam!!lol

Adam Rittenberg: Rich, you're making my head hurt! But even if we get a truly wild scenario like the one you present, the tiebreakers are more or less the same: head-to-head among the tied teams, overall record and then highest rank in the final BCS standings. Let's cross that bridge when we get there. I'd be truly stunned if none of the top four teams finishes at 7-1 in league play.

Sam from East Lansing, Mich., writes: Dear Adam,I have read numerous publications that say that my Spartans should hope for an Iowa loss when Iowa and OSU face off at Kinnick Stadium because that would wipe out MSU's head to head disadvantage against the Hawkeyes. But by my research, shouldn't we root for the Hawkeyes to beat the Buckeyes so we might end up in a 3 way tie with Wisconsin, Iowa, and MSU. Iowa would drop because of overall record and MSU goes to the Rose Bowl because of the head-to-head. Am I missing something? I'm I still in shock from that beat down MSU got versus the Hawkeyes?

Adam Rittenberg: Sam, Michigan State wants to avoid a head-to-head tiebreaker with Iowa or a three-way tie with Wisconsin and Ohio State because the Badgers and/or Buckeyes likely would be ranked higher in the final BCS standings. The best-case scenarios, aside from MSU winning out and everyone else losing at least once, is a two-way tie at the top with MSU and Wisconsin or a three-way tie with MSU, Wisconsin and Iowa because MSU would earn the Big Ten's automatic BCS berth.

Matt from Champaign, Ill., writes: Hey Adam! Call me a homer ... how can you put Michigan State behind Wisconsin, Iowa, and Ohio State in your power rankings? Without flying off the handle I'd like to provide you with your own material as rational they should be #1. First of all, if all of those teams win out --Sparty will be #1 in the Big Ten. So yeah, that right there makes your rankings horrific. Sparty beat up on the Badgers with the game never in question -- winning by 10. MSU has more "quality" wins against more ranked teams than Ohio State OR Iowa. Now I know Iowa spanked us hard in their own place, but as you know, one game doesn't mean THAT much and has to be balanced against the previous 8 games. When Illinois upset Ohio State a few years ago to swing their way to a Rose Bowl; did that mean the Illini were a better team? I don't think so. Adam, I usually like your work, but this power ranking business is just not up to par.

Adam Rittenberg: Matt, I'll happily move Michigan State to No. 1 if the Spartans win out and the other teams stumble, but you're misunderstanding what the power rankings are all about. They're meant to reflect how a team is performing right now. You can't expect me to rank Michigan State at No. 1 after that sorry display on Saturday. The Spartans never showed up in that game, so therefore they pay a price in the power rankings. As to your claim that "Sparty beat up on the Badgers with the game never in question," you clearly didn't watch the game. Michigan State trailed 10-3 early in the second quarter and led by only three points for most of the fourth quarter. Power rankings don't balance one horrific performance against eight wins. They reward or penalize for what a team has done lately. Period.

Dan from Minneapolis writes: Adam, Am I correct in assuming that the only conceivable way for Iowa to win the Big Ten is for them to win out and have Wisconsin lose one of its remaining games? I think that would do it because OSU and Wisc would have 2 conference losses (Wisc / Iowa for OSU and Mich St. / ? for Wisc) and Michigan State would lose the head to head tie breaker. I know you are a busy guy but it might be helpful to see a breakdown of what needs to happen for Iowa, Wisc, Mich St., and OSU to win the BT. Thanks,Dan

Adam Rittenberg: You are correct in your assumption, Dan. And you must have missed this post, which breaks down the Big Ten race and all the tiebreakers. It should answer all your questions.

Sean from Chicago writes: Adam, looking at your tiebreaker possibility of Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Michigan State all ended with 1 conference loss and the highest BCS ranked team going to Pasadena. What will it take for OSU to close the gap in the BCS that widened this week despite another blowout victory of an inferior team? You would think the computers will only improve for OSU with Iowa come up on the road, but do you think it would be enough to close the gap with Wisconsin or should us buckeye fans not get our hopes up there?

Adam Rittenberg: The computers aren't too high on either Ohio State or Wisconsin right now, and it's tough to tell who will be ranked higher if both win out. Ohio State certainly has the best opportunity for a BCS-boosting win with the Nov. 20 game at Iowa, barring a Hawkeyes collapse. The Buckeyes also would benefit from strong finishes by Illinois, a team they beat, as well as Penn State and Michigan, two teams they still must play. A week ago, I really felt Ohio State would move past Wisconsin in the final BCS standings if both win out, but now I'm not so sure. Ohio State's win against Miami is looking less and less impressive.

Matt McGloin from University Park, Pa., writes: Adam, Hoping you can run with my comments at the end of the game against UM. I called out "Herbie" on national TV... would be curious to know if my comments made it to Herbie. Perhaps you can check??? Sounds like a good story for the blog...

Adam Rittenberg: Matt, I tweeted your comment after the game Saturday, and I'll mention it here as well. Herbie definitely reads the blog, so I'm sure he'll get your message. Great game the other night, by the way. Are you starting again this week?

Derek from Bluffton, Ind., writes: Adam, So, for the second year in a row Coach Hope has found something to whine about after a loss.This guy appears to be a little bit of a, well, sissy. I mean, blaming RichRod last season for getting a Purdue player suspended, a player that probably deserved the suspension. Now upset that Illinois was "running it up"? I personally can't stand Illinois and Zook, and UM and RichRod are my mortal enemies. So it kills me to defend them, but lets be serious. Illinois is looking to win out, go 9-3 and be in a GREAT bowl game with a freshman QB. Zook doesn't have the luxury of sitting back and grinding it out like, say, Jim Tressel at OSU. The difference is that OSU has a seasoned QB, game reps late in blowouts aren't that helpful for Pryor. But for Scheelhause, EVERY rep matters! Please, Danny, shut up and get your team ready for games. He seems to have been in the news a lot for such a woeful team.

Adam Rittenberg: Whoa, Derek, tell us how you really feel about Danny Hope. I didn't like what he did last year after the Michigan game, especially considering what a win in Ann Arbor meant in Purdue football history. I had less of an issue with what he said after the Illinois game, as it was surprising to see the Illini continue to pass the ball late in the fourth quarter when the game clearly was over. Maybe you chalk it up to Illinois not being in that position much the last two years, but I came away a little surprised. Then again, you make a good point about Scheelhaase. Hope clearly has bigger issues on his plate, namely trying to get a banged-up team two more wins so it can get to a bowl game.

Tom from Madison, Wis., writes: Adam, Love reading your blog, great work! I do have a question regarding your bowl prediction scenario. Does Wisconsin want Ohio State to beat Iowa?? I think that a lot of us in Madison are thinking that we want Iowa to win, but according to your Big Ten Race Update, Week 10, it looks as tho we would want a three team tie between Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Michigan State. Am I reading this correctly?

Adam Rittenberg: The biggest thing Wisconsin needs is a Michigan State loss, but yes, it would be better to be tied with Michigan State and Ohio State than with Michigan State and Iowa. In the latter, Iowa would be eliminated because of overall record, resulting in Michigan State getting the BCS berth because of its head-to-head win against Wisconsin. If it's a three-way tie with Wisconsin, MSU and Ohio State, it would come down purely to highest BCS ranking, which gives the Badgers a chance.