|Michigan's Devin Gardner, filling in for injured Denard Robinson at quarterback, has kept the Wolverines in the race for the Big Ten championship game. (US Presswire)|
1. Nebraska (8-2, 5-1): The Huskers cleared the biggest obstacle blocking them from the Big Ten championship when they beat Penn State 32-23 last Saturday in Lincoln. All that remains is a visit from the Gophers this Saturday followed by trip to Iowa City on Black Friday. With a head-to-head tiebreaker serving as the only separation between themselves and Michigan, the Huskers can ill-afford a letdown in the tight division race. Also, should Nebraska win out but lose the conference championship game to Wisconsin, there's an outside chance it would earn an at-large bid into a BCS game. Teams finishing in the top-14 are eligible and the Huskers currently sit at 14.
2. Michigan (7-3, 5-1): The Wolverines kept pace with the Huskers -- barely. Michigan WR Roy Roundtree saved the team's hopes of a Big Ten title game appearance when he hauled in a 53-yard catch with 18 seconds left to put the Wolverines in FG range. Michigan would go on to beat Northwestern in OT, keeping the heat on the Huskers. However, the Wolverines still need to beat Iowa and Ohio State and have Nebraska falter to make it to Indianapolis. Michigan is currently ranked 21st in the BCS standings and it's doubtful that wins over the Hawkeyes and Buckeyes would propel them seven spots to at-large eligibility.
3. Northwestern (7-3, 3-3): The Wildcats lost their chance at a Big Ten title-game appearance with yet another second-half collapse last week and the loss also dropped them out of the BCS top 25. They can rebound this weekend against Michigan State in East Lansing. Northwestern is currently projected to play in the Buffalo Wild Wings bowl against Oklahoma State, according to CBSSports.com's bowl predictions.
4. Iowa (4-6, 2-4): The Hawkeyes need wins over Michigan and Nebraska to close the season if they want to avoid missing a bowl game for the first time in four years. One has to wonder where the Hawkeyes would be standing if they hadn't lost four games -- Iowa State, Central Michigan, Indiana and Purdue -- by three points each.
5. Minnesota (6-4, 2-4): Even though the Gophers lost to Iowa earlier in the season, their six wins have them bowl eligible for the first time since 2009. The Gophers will have a tough time winning in Lincoln on Saturday, but they could beat Michigan State to close the season and head to their bowl game on a positive note. Minnesota AD Norwood Teague said, “Right now, we'd either be slated to go to Phoenix or to Houston -- to Phoenix to go to the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl or Houston to the Meineke Car Care Bowl,” he said to the Star Tribune.
6. Michigan State (5-5, 2-4): As miserable as the season has been, with a win on Saturday over Northwestern -- their first Big Ten home win of the season -- the Spartans would become bowl eligible. It's not the kind of success Michigan State is used to, but it's an accolade it will take, nonetheless. The Spartans are currently projected to play in the Gator Bowl against Mississippi State on New Year's Day.
For more Big Ten coverage, follow Mike Singer and Dave Carey @CBSSportsBigTen.