Two weeks ago we took a look at Penn State's potential paths to Indianapolis and the inaugural Big Ten Championship game. A lot has happened since then, but on the football field and in the standings, Penn State remains the best of the Leaders Division bunch, controlling their own destiny in the final two weeks of regular season play.
Two Saturdays ago, as expected, both Ohio State and Wisconsin won, keeping their distance behind Penn State at two games each. This past weekend, however, Ohio State once again fell victim to Purdue, effectively dashing any hope for the Buckeyes to reach Indianapolis. In fact, Purdue now occupies the third place Leaders Division spot, bumping Ohio State to fourth.
So who does that leave, and what does that mean?
Barring some crazy occurrences over the final two weekends of Big Ten football, the Leaders Division is down to Penn State and Wisconsin. This also renders Penn State's game against Ohio State relatively meaningless in terms of the division race, UNLESS Wisconsin finds a way to lose at Illinois, which isn't unthinkable but is quite improbable. If it does in fact happen, a Penn State victory over Ohio State clinches the division and puts the Nittany Lions in Indianapolis despite the walls crumbling around them.
Assuming then that Wisconsin dispatches with Illinois and regardless of the outcome in Columbus, it appears the Leaders Division champion will be decided by the season ending matchup between Wisconsin and Penn State. If Penn State does manage to take care of OSU this weekend, they will still have a one game lead. However, should Wisconsin win the following week in Madison, they'll take the first tie breaker, that being head-to-head record. Essentially, November 26 has now become the first ever Leaders Division Championship Game, a week before the first ever Big Ten Conference Championship Game.
In the other division (Corn/West/Legends), Michigan State is also in control of their own destiny, and with games remaining against Indiana and Northwestern, it's hard to envision them not winning the division. Michigan and Nebraska are each a game behind, and they just so happen to play each other this coming week. The winner stays in the hunt for the top spot, but also has a difficult final game. Michigan hosts OSU in THE GAME this year, while Nebraska hosts Iowa in the only conference game not to be played on a Saturday (Friday, November 25). Each will still need help, but next week's matchup in Ann Arbor should effectively crush one team's conference championship dreams.
With two weeks to go, we're most likely looking at a Michigan State vs. Wisconsin/Penn State conference championship game. If it's Penn State, does the Land Grant Trophy come back? Since the teams are no longer playing for the Stagg-Paterno Championship Trophy (Stagg Championship Trophy, now), can we at least bring home the ugliest trophy in all of sports and destroy it in an Office Space-like beatdown? It might even help get some of the team's anger out.