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With two weeks remaining, Illinois can STILL win the Big Ten West

I didn’t hear no bell.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 11 Indiana at Illinois Photo by James Black/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

You know, for a good portion of the Illini game this past Saturday, I thought I’d really stepped in it this time. I genuinely thought I had condemned the boys in orange & blue orange to an ignominious gut punch by writing up a scenario in which their 4-5 season culminated in a Big Ten West championship and a berth in the conference title game.

Fortunately, the defense finally made a stop at the last possible opportunity they had to set up Magic John Paddock for an unforgettable game-winning strike to Isaiah Williams. I didn’t get burned by it last week, so I’m going to go through the scenarios as they stand today!

Take a look at last week’s situation:

If you bet the Things Illinois Needs To Win The West Outright parlay, you probably spent the afternoon and early evening cursing Rutgers for their offensive ineptitude, as their loss to Iowa was the only one of the five game results that went against us. Northwestern and Purdue came out as underdogs and smashed Wisconsin and Minnesota respectively, and Nebraska went mistake-for-mistake with Maryland and ultimately was able to make one more to bring home the loss.

Here’s where we stand now:

The first thing that should stand out to you is that Iowa has a two-game lead. Iowa has already clinched a share of the final Big Ten West title.

It’s up to Illinois to make sure that the final Big Ten West title race continues into the final week.

Any win by Iowa in the final two games clinches the West outright for the Hawkeyes. Fortunately, one of those games is against the Illini.

Illinois can only win in a tiebreaker now. However, since Iowa beat Rutgers and therefore must now lose to Nebraska to create a tie, Illinois can no longer win any tiebreaker situation involving Wisconsin or Nebraska. That does at least make things a little simpler.

Illinois wins the West and goes to Indy if:

  • The Illini win out, defeating Iowa and Northwestern
  • Wisconsin beats Nebraska this week, capping the Huskers’ B1G win total at a maximum of four
  • Nebraska wins that fourth conference game against Iowa in Week 13
  • Minnesota wins the Axe Game against Wisconsin next week so that Wisconsin finishes with four wins

That’s it! Just five games that need a specific outcome. Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska and Wisconsin’s final two games must go a certain way, but interestingly it doesn’t matter whether or not Minnesota beats Ohio State in this scenario. They would lose to Illinois on the head-to-head tiebreaker after Iowa, having lost to both Illinois and Minnesota, is eliminated from the three-way tie.

Only Purdue is eliminated at this point. The rest of the West needs Illinois to win at Iowa.

Look for the rest of the title scenarios for other teams that don’t matter over on Off Tackle Empire later in the week.