We knew last weekend's Wisconsin-Purdue match-up would put one team in the driver's seat of the Leaders Division, but the Badgers trumping of the Boilermakers all but clinches a trip to Indy for UW. Here's a latest look at the standings:
Ohio State (3-0 B1G, 7-0 Overall)
Penn State (2-0, 4-2)
Wisconsin (2-1, 5-2)
Purdue (0-2, 3-3)
Illinois (0-3, 2-4)
Indiana (0-3, 2-5)
Record-wise, the Badgers hold a 1.5 game lead over Purdue, but with the tiebreaker thanks to a head-to-head victory, that essentially becomes a 2.5 game lead. It's practically the same case with Illinois, except by owning a 0-3 record, the Illini are 3 games back — including the tiebreaker. Indiana is just 2 games behind the Badgers, and will host UW on Nov. 10 (sorry Hoosiers, but you're more than a long shot).
With most teams still with five or six games remaining on the schedule, we cannot eliminate them from the race quite yet. As we've seen throughout the course of this season, anything is possible. But in all reality, teams like Illinois, Purdue and Indiana must come close to running the table, if not actually winning out. That alone makes a comeback tough to envision, but the fact the Badgers would have to squander about three or four of its final five games (with three of those five coming at home), is very difficult to picture, given the direction Wisconsin is currently headed.
Another less important aspect of this divisional race, includes Ohio State and Penn State. Don't forget these schools can still win a divisional title, they just can't compete in the Big Ten Championship game or a bowl game. Now, if you're Wisconsin, you'd much rather actually win your division outright, rather than back into the title game. For the most part, we've ignored Ohio State and Penn State because of their ineligibility, but it's about time we not only expect the Badgers to make it to Indy, but to battle down the stretch for the Leaders Division crown.
ESPN.com's Big Ten Blog gives its midseason report of the Badgers.
Check out this aggregation of where experts currently rank Wisconsin and where they see UW going 'bowling' this holiday season.
Interesting tidbit: Dave Heller of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel asked Heisman Pundit Chris Huston what Montee Ball would need to do to return to Heisman consideration. Huston's repsonse: "I think he would have to average 200 ypg the rest of the way, score 15 more TDs, to even be close."
Offensive coordinator Matt Canada is finally beginning to come into his own by sticking with his philosophy.
Defensive end Tyler Dippel is set to return against Minnesota as well.