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Illinois can still win the Big Ten West

Another week, and the hope lives.

NCAA Football: Rutgers at Illinois Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

After beating Rutgers, Illinois can still win the Big Ten West.

Let’s talk about it.

Illinois needs to win its remaining three games

If the Illini want to win the Big Ten West, they’ll have to go 6-3 in conference play.

That means the Illini need to defeat...

  • A 1-7 Northwestern
  • A 4-4 Michigan State that isn’t good
  • And a ranked Iowa team (63-0 revenge game, baby)

In this scenario, Purdue, Nebraska and Northwestern are all eliminated.

Then there were three.

Illinois needs to beat Iowa.

For Illinois to get to six wins, we’ve already established this as fact.

If the Illini beat the Hawkeyes, Iowa can finish at best 6-3, but would have a loss to Illinois.

Iowa must also beat Minnesota. But Iowa needs to win out besides that game.

We’re looking for a four-way tie at the top.

Wisconsin needs to lose at least once.

But also beat Minnesota.

Wisconsin needs to beat Minnesota. Let’s make that clear.

As long as the Badgers lose one of their remaining three games after that (Iowa, Nebraska, Purdue), the Badgers can finish at best 6-3 with a loss to Illinois.

Minnesota needs to lose three times (Wisconsin, Penn State and Iowa, but the Gophers can beat Northwestern).

The Golden Gophers are the darlings so far in the Big Ten, but that has to stop.

We’ve already established that losses to Iowa and Wisconsin are necessary, but also a L to Penn State (likely). They can beat the Wildcats and finish 6-3.

That leaves a four-way tie at the top of the division.

So, to recap.

  1. Illinois 6-3 (with wins over Iowa, Wisconsin)
  2. Wisconsin 6-3 (with wins over Iowa?, Minnesota)
  3. Iowa 6-3. (with wins over Minnesota, Wisconsin?)
  4. Minnesota 6-3 (with win over Illinois)

So where do we stand?

Well, the tiebreaker is head-to-head among the tied teams at the top.

So, Minnesota only has one win. And since someone between Wisconsin and Iowa will win that game next week, that leaves the Illini at the top!

If Illinois wins out and Minnesota suddenly starts to falter, the Illini are in the driver’s seat to win the division.