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Here's how Indiana could play in the Big Ten title game without yet being bowl eligible

Posted by: Michael Rand under NCAA: football Updated: November 5, 2012 - 3:08 PM

"Hoosiers" depicts the unlikely 1954 state basketball championship won in Indiana by Milan High.

Is it time for a sequel with Indiana's college football team?

If so, the film will not be green-lighted by Big Ten commish Jim Delany. This is his worst nightmare. But if you are a college football fan who loves crazy scenarios, you should be paying attention to the Hoosiers.

Indiana defeated Iowa last week to improve its record to a modest 4-5 overall -- 2-3 in the Big Ten. In this year's wacky Leaders Division, however, that is the driver's seat.

Ohio State is atop the division at 6-0. Penn State sits at 4-1. But both teams are ineligible for postseason play, including the Big Ten title game. That means Wisconsin, at 3-2 in the conference, is the leader. The other two teams, Illinois and Purdue, are 0-5.

Wisconsin plays at Indiana on Saturday. If the Hoosiers win, they will be tied for the division lead among eligible teams and they will hold the tiebreaker over the Badgers by virtue of the win. Both teams would be 3-3, while Indiana would be 5-5 overall.

If both teams then lost their final two Big Ten games, Indiana would go to the conference title game despite having a 3-5 record in the conference and a 5-7 record overall -- one win shy of bowl eligibility. The real questions at that point:

1) Would Indiana still get a bowl berth if they lost the Big Ten title game, given what we read here is that the loser of that game is guaranteed no worse than the fourth bowl tie-in after the BCS games. Maybe bowl eligibility trumps that clause; then again, maybe they never wrote "bowl eligibility" into the bylaws because the Big Ten could never have imagined how a team could make it to the title game without being eligible for a bowl.

2) Or, if Indiana somehow won the Big Ten title game, how badly would they lose if they played Oregon in the Rose Bowl?

Keep in mind, too, that if Indiana beats Wisconsin there is a good chance the Hoosiers will make it to the title game. Wisconsin's remaining opponents after this weekend: home vs. Ohio State and at Penn State. Indiana, meanwhile, still has a game at 0-5 Purdue. Any tie in the standings goes to the Hoosiers.

A Wisconsin win this weekend makes all of this moot. So you know which way you should be rooting.

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