Maybe it’s fitting this year that a team would go to the Dec. 19 Big Ten football championship game via a cancellation.
That’s assuming there is a Big Ten title game.
Nothing is set in stone, but Northwestern quite likely became the West’s representative in the Big Ten championship when it was announced Monday that the Wildcats’ scheduled game at Minnesota Saturday was canceled because of a COVID-19 outbreak in the Minnesota program.
Even if Northwestern were to lose at home to Illinois on Dec. 12 and Iowa were to beat Illinois this Saturday and Wisconsin on Dec. 12, the Wildcats’ 5-2 record would send them to Indianapolis over 6-2 Iowa.
If two or more teams have the same number of conference losses but a different number of wins, head-to-head results take precedence over winning percentage.
Northwestern beat Iowa 21-20 in Iowa City on Oct. 31, a game in which Iowa led 17-0.
Wisconsin could beat Indiana and Iowa in its final two games to finish 4-1, but as things stand, five games played wouldn’t be enough to qualify for the West’s title.
So, unless 11 of the league’s final 13 remaining games are canceled and the minimum-games requirement is lowered from six to five, and Northwestern loses to Illinois, the Wildcats win the West.
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ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg reported Monday morning there is a chance Northwestern could have a new opponent this week, but that would require another game to be canceled.
The Wildcats could have removed all ifs and buts last Saturday, but they lost 29-20 at Michigan State.
Meanwhile, Ohio State (4-0) needs to play two more games to reach the Big Ten’s minimum-game requirement as of now and claim the East title. The Buckeyes canceled their game at Illinois last Saturday because of a COVID-19 outbreak of their own.
Michigan is holding all its football activities virtually Monday because of a presumptive rise in positive COVID-19 tests.
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