Big Ten rooting interests: Week 13

There are two weeks left before bowl selections, and two more rooting interests pieces to go. This week's version will be short and will focus on the Big Ten's slim chances for a BCS at-large berth, with No. 14 Nebraska and No. 19 Michigan the teams in play.

The Leaders Division is all wrapped up for rooting interests purposes. Ohio State has claimed the division championship outright at 7-0 in Big Ten play, while Wisconsin will be heading to Indianapolis next week for the Big Ten title game.

Let's quickly hit the other side of the conference ...


Michigan (8-3, 6-1 Big Ten) should root for ...

  • Iowa to beat Nebraska. If Michigan beats Ohio State and Nebraska falls to Iowa, the Wolverines head to the Big Ten title game. A Nebraska loss Friday also assures Michigan of at least a share of the division title.

Nebraska (9-2, 6-1) should root for ...

  • Ohio State to beat Michigan. A Michigan loss assures Nebraska of a spot in the Big Ten title game because of the Huskers' head-to-head win against the Wolverines on Oct. 27. A Michigan loss also assures Nebraska of at least a share of the division title. Then again, if Nebraska beats Iowa, nothing else matters.

Let's move on to the more important element of this week's rooting interests. Nebraska and Michigan are the only realistic candidates for a BCS at-large berth, and Nebraska would have a tough time contending with one more loss either to slumping Iowa on Friday or Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game. Michigan would help its cause with a win against 11-0 Ohio State, but it also would need some help. Keep in mind the 19th-ranked Wolverines must move up five spots in the BCS standings just to be eligible for at-large selection.

The SEC is assured of two BCS bowl berths, and the Pac-12 took a big step toward locking up multiple berths in Week 12. Notre Dame will be going to the national title game or another BCS bowl, and the ACC also is poised to send two teams (No. 10 Florida State and No. 11 Clemson) to the big bowls. The Big 12 is in decent shape with three teams -- Kansas State, Oklahoma and Texas -- in the top 16 of the BCS standings.

About the only thing that helped the Big Ten's at-large hopes in Week 12 was Louisiana Tech's loss to Utah State, which ensures that no team from a non-automatic qualifying league will earn a BCS bowl invite.

Let's get to it ...


Michigan/Nebraska should root for ...

  • South Carolina to beat Clemson and Florida to beat Florida State. The ACC could be the Big Ten's biggest obstacle to getting a BCS at-large berth. Florida State will play in the ACC title game and is heavily favored to win it and earn the league's automatic BCS bowl berth. Clemson, meanwhile, sits at No. 11 in the BCS standings but could drop out of the top 14 with a home loss to rival South Carolina. The Florida State loss matters less than the Clemson loss, but if the Seminoles somehow lose to Georgia Tech in the ACC title game, there's no way they earn a BCS at-large berth with three total losses.

  • UCLA to beat Stanford and Oregon to beat Oregon State. If Stanford wins this week in Pasadena, the two teams will meet again next week for the right to go to the Rose Bowl. A BCS bowl won't pass on Oregon even if the Ducks lose a second straight game, so a Stanford win virtually assures the Pac-12 of two teams in BCS bowls. The best chance for the Pac-12 to send only one team to the big bowls is to have UCLA crush Stanford, and Oregon to crush Oregon State and then beat UCLA in next week's league title game. That way, the Ducks likely go to the Rose Bowl and Pac-12 gets only one BCS bowl entry. Although this means the Big Ten has an arguably tougher Rose Bowl opponent in Oregon, it also increases the Big Ten's chances of an at-large BCS berth.

  • TCU to beat Texas and Oklahoma State to beat Oklahoma. Kansas State remains in the driver's seat in the Big 12, and Michigan/Nebraska should root for the Wildcats to win out and secure the league's automatic BCS bowl berth. Oklahoma and Texas both are still alive in the Big 12 race, but losses by both this week would hand Kansas State the league title and essentially knock both the Sooners and the Longhorns out of BCS at-large contention.