Wisconsin Emphatically Claims Big Ten Title, Rose Bowl Berth

Wisconsin, the biggest beneficiary of Ohio State and Penn State’s ineligibility in 2012, has come all the way back from an uneasy start to its season and will represent the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl after defeating Nebraska, 70-31, in the Big Ten Championship Game on Saturday.

The Badgers will be the first five-loss team to take part in a BCS bowl, eclipsing four-loss 2010 UConn and 2002 Florida State’s previous record for most losses by a BCS-bound team, but Wisconsin is on its way to a third straight Rose Bowl.

Wisconsin (8-5, 4-4) finished the Big Ten’s regular season in third place in the conference’s Leaders division, but with the first-place Buckeyes (12-0, 8-0) and second-place Nittany Lions (8-4, 6-2) ineligible for postseason play because of NCAA sanctions, it was up to the Badgers to take on Nebraska in the Big Ten Championship Game.

Wisconsin will appear in its fifth Rose Bowl during the BCS era, having lost the previous two after winning the 1999 and 2000 editions of the historic bowl.

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Nebraska Officially Joins Big Ten on Friday

The Big Ten will welcome its 12th (yes, 12th) member Friday in the Nebraska Cornhuskers, marking the official start of the newly reorganized and restructured power conference.

Nebraska will join the conference after leaving the Big 12, which the university had called home since 1996.

The planned move was agreed upon in June 2010, but the school played out the 2010 season as part of the Big 12.

The addition of a 12th team allows the Big Ten conference to hold a college football conference championship game and for the conference to break into two divisions.

The divisions are as follows:

Leaders Legends

Illinois Fighting Illini

Iowa Hawkeyes

Indiana Hoosiers

Michigan Wolverines

Ohio State Buckeyes

Michigan State Spartans

Penn State Nittany Lions

Minnesota Golden Gophers

Purdue Boilermakers

Northwestern Wildcats

Wisconsin Badgers

Nebraska Cornhuskers

The regular season champions of the Leaders and Legends divisions will play in the inaugural Big Ten Conference Championship Game, which will be played December 3, 2011 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Stagg-Paterno Championship Trophy will be given to the winner of the game.

The winner of the game will also be guaranteed a spot among one of the five BCS Bowls, as part of the Big Ten Conference’s automatic agreement with the BCS.

Oklahoma Wins Big 12 Title, Heads Off to Fiesta Bowl

An up-and-down season that saw them as high as BCS No. 1 culminated Saturday night as the Oklahoma Sooners won the Big 12 Championship Game over Nebraska 23-20 and are Fiesta Bowl bound.

As the Big 12 champs the Sooners will be the Big 12’s representative in the Fiesta Bowl, which hosts the Big 12 champion if they are not headed to the BCS National Championship Game.

The Sooners used defense and just enough offense to beat the Cornhuskers on Saturday night and will be headed to the BCS for the eighth time and fourth straight year.

This will also be the Sooner’s third appearance in the Fiesta Bowl.

Nebraska Clinches Spot in Big 12 Title Game

With their 45-17 victory over Colorado on Friday night, the Nebraska Cornhuskers have clinched a spot in next weekend’s Big 12 Championship Game at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

The Cornhuskers leaped out to a 17-3 halftime lead over the Buffaloes at home and did not look back, finishing off Colorado with a balanced attack throughout the game — outscoring the Buffs 28-10 in the second half.

With the victory, the Cornhuskers eliminated the Missouri Tigers in the Big 12 North race, rendering the Tigers’ meeting with Kansas on Saturday meaningless in the division race.

This will be Nebraska’s second-straight berth in the Big 12 Championship Game, following last year’s classic in which the ‘Huskers lost a heart-breaker, 13-12 to the Texas Longhorns.

Nebraska will now await the result of tomorrow’s Bedlam game between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, which will likely decide their opponent in next weekend’s Big 12 title game.

If Oklahoma State wins, they will win the Big 12 South outright. With an Oklahoma win, a logjam at 6-2 in-conference would be created at the top of the South division, which would leave the decision to the BCS standings.

Despite the possibilities that the BCS standings tiebreaker method create, it is likely that Oklahoma would still be in the best position to win the South’s bid to the Big 12 title game.

Big Ten, Big 12 and Big East Rundown Week 12

Big Ten

Conference Leader: Wisconsin (10-1, 6-1)

Lurking: Ohio State (10-1, 6-1)

Game of Last Week: Ohio State 20 vs. Iowa 17. The Buckeyes struggled, but they did just enough to stay alive in the three-team Big Ten title race, that will likely come down to positioning in the BCS standings.

Game of Next Week: Ohio State vs. Michigan. Ohio State will need some help to claim the Big Ten title, but a victory in their traditional rivalry game with the Wolverines is as important as ever.

Bowl Eligible Teams: Michigan State Spartans, Ohio State Buckeyes, Wisconsin Badgers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Northwestern Wildcats, Michigan Wolverines, Penn State Nittany Lions, Illinois Fighting Illini.

Big 12

Conference Leaders: Nebraska (9-2, 5-2; North Division) and Oklahoma State (10-1, 6-1; South Division)

Lurking: Missouri (9-2, 5-2; North Division) and Oklahoma (9-2, 5-2; South Division)

Game of Last Week: Texas A&M 9 vs. Nebraska 6. A victory here would have given the Cornhuskers the North title, instead the Aggie victory opened both division races and left it to the final weekend to decide who will fight for the Big 12’s BCS bid.

Game of Next Week: Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State. Bedlam will have an extra important feel this year, as a victory for the Cowboys would give them the Big 12 South title, while an Oklahoma victory would likely give the Sooners that crown — by virtue of a three-way tiebreaker.

Bowl Eligible Teams: Missouri Tigers, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Baylor Bears, Kansas State Wildcats, Texas A&M Aggies, Texas Tech Red Raiders.

Big East

Conference Leader: Pittsburgh (6-4, 4-1)

Lurking: Connecticut (6-4, 3-2)

Game of Last Week: Pittsburgh 17 vs. South Florida 10. If the Bulls could have won on Saturday, they would have had a surprisingly good shot at the Big East title, but a Panther victory ended most of those hopes while keeping Pitt a game clear of the rest of the Big East race.

Game of Next Week: West Virginia vs. Pittsburgh. The Backyard Brawl has added meaning as a victory for Pittsburgh would help them get to the BCS, while a West Virginia victory could spell a variety of possible Big East conference champions.

Bowl Eligible Teams: Syracuse Orange, South Florida Bulls, West Virginia Mountaineers, Connecticut Huskies, Pittsburgh Panthers.

Big Ten, Big 12 and Big East Rundown Week 11

Big Ten

Conference Leader: Wisconsin (9-1, 5-1)

Lurking: Michigan State (9-1, 5-1)

Game of Last Week: Northwestern 21 vs. Iowa 17. A last minute drive — which would prove to be his last of the season — engineered by Wildcat quarterback Dan Persa gave Northwestern the upset victory, their fifth win over Iowa in six tries.

Game of Next Week: Ohio State vs. Iowa. The game has slightly less importance after Iowa’s loss to Northwestern, but the test will be just as still for the Buckeyes in Iowa City.

Bowl Eligible Teams: Michigan State Spartans, Ohio State Buckeyes, Wisconsin Badgers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Northwestern Wildcats, Michigan Wolverines, Penn State Nittany Lions.

Big 12

Conference Leaders: Nebraska (9-1, 5-1; North Division) and Oklahoma State (9-1, 5-1; South Division)

Lurking: Missouri (8-2, 4-2; North Division) and Texas A&M (7-3, 4-2; South Division)

Game of Last Week: Texas A&M 42 vs. Baylor 30. A meeting between two surprise contenders in the Big 12 conference proved to be an affirmation of the Aggies victory over Oklahoma the week before.

Game of Next Week: Nebraska vs. Texas A&M. A victory here would assure Nebraska of the Big 12 North title and a berth in the Big 12 Championship Game, while a victory for the Aggies would keep them in the race for the South.

Bowl Eligible Teams: Missouri Tigers, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Baylor Bears, Kansas State Wildcats, Texas A&M Aggies.

Big East

Conference Leader: Pittsburgh (5-4, 3-1)

Lurking: Syracuse (7-3, 4-2)

Game of Last Week: Connecticut 30 vs. Pittsburgh 28. UConn running back Johnathan Todman ran for 222 yards and the Huskies converted a fourth down in their own territory to give the Panthers their first Big East loss and reopen the Big East title race.

Game of Next Week: Connecticut vs. Syracuse. Although no game seems to be a “knockout game” in the Big East race this year, victories by either team would certainly help their aspirations for a Big East conference title.

Bowl Eligible Teams: Syracuse Orange, South Florida Bulls, West Virginia Mountaineers.

Big Ten, Big 12 and Big East Rundown Week Ten

Big Ten

Conference Leader: Michigan State (9-1, 5-1)

Lurking: Wisconsin (8-1, 4-1)

Game of Last Week: Michigan 67 vs. Illinois 65. In a game that made the schools’ basketball game score from last season look paltry, Michigan outlasted the Illini in three overtimes.

Game of Next Week: Ohio State vs. Penn State. The Buckeyes will have to pass the test of a suddenly rejuvenated Nittany Lions team if they want to stay alive in the crowded Big Ten race.

Bowl Eligible Teams: Michigan State Spartans, Ohio State Buckeyes, Wisconsin Badgers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Northwestern Wildcats, Michigan Wolverines, Penn State Nittany Lions.

Big 12

Conference Leaders: Nebraska (8-1, 4-1; North Division) and Oklahoma State (8-1, 4-1; South Division)

Lurking: Missouri (7-2, 3-2; North Division) and Missouri (7-2, 3-2; South Division)

Game of Last Week: Texas A&M 33 vs. Oklahoma 19. The Sooners suffer a crushing second loss in Big 12 play while the Aggies impress enough to get a spot in this week’s BCS standings.

Game of Next Week: Oklahoma State vs. Texas. On the road in Austin, the South Division-leading Cowboys will again be put to the test against a team that is usually in their spot.

Bowl Eligible Teams: Missouri Tigers, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Baylor Bears, Kansas State Wildcats, Texas A&M Aggies.

Big East

Conference Leader: Pittsburgh (5-3, 3-0)

Lurking: Syracuse (6-3, 3-2)

Game of Last Week: South Florida 28 vs. Rutgers 27. The matchup did not disappoint, as the Bulls captured their first victory over the Scarlet Knights in five tries.

Game of Next Week: Pittsburgh vs. Connecticut. The Huskies have a chance to derail the seemingly easy road ahead of the Panthers for the Big East crown with this Thursday night showdown.

Bowl Eligible Teams: None yet.