Michigan’s Loss at Penn State Could Impact Legends Division Race
Ever since major college football conferences were split into divisions, the road to the conference championship game was clear. Any team that swept its own division and lost no more than a single game to a cross-division opponent would claim a spot in the conference title game. But lose two cross-division games and the door is open for another team to slide into the big game. Michigan’s loss at Penn State with a season ending contest against Ohio State looming, opens the door for Nebraska (or Michigan State) to take the Legends Division title without beating the Wolverines.
On paper, Nebraska’s game at Michigan was the toughest one on the schedule for 2013. The Wolverines were considered the favorite and only their final game hosting the Buckeyes appeared to be a likely loss. If both schools finished 7-1 in that scenario, then Michigan would face Ohio State in a rematch for the conference crown. Now, a 7-1 Big Ten record for Nebraska with a loss in Ann Arbor would only keep the Huskers out of Indianapolis if Michigan upset OSU in November.
If we apply the latest Sagarin ratings however, a whole new picture emerges. The predictor ratings imply a 6-2 record for Nebraska with losses at Michigan and Penn State. The Wolverines would not only lose to Ohio State but also at Michigan State, so NU would still pass them in the standings. The Spartans would fall in Lincoln but that would be their only conference loss. That would mean an MSU-OSU conference championship matchup. In that scenario, the Huskers probably fall to the Outback Bowl, Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, or Gator Bowl at 9-3.
What’s certain is that the Huskers still control their own destiny. Should the worst happen in Ann Arbor, there may be a second chance for NU to play for the Big Ten championship.