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How else can Illinois win the Big Ten West in 2022?

CHAMPAIGN — There are many who might have thought a narrow loss to No. 3 Michigan in Ann Arbor last Saturday would have dashed Illinois’ hopes of reaching a program first in 2022.

It certainly didn’t help them, but the Illini still have a shot at winning the Big Ten West division if some scenarios play out on Friday and Saturday in the final week of the regular season.

Right now, three teams are still eligible to win the Big Ten West.

  • Iowa – 5-3 in Big Ten – 7-4 overall
  • Purdue – 5-3 in Big Ten – 7-4 overall
  • Illinois – 4-4 in Big Ten – 7-4 overall

Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern and Wisconsin were all eliminated from contention for a division title and a shot at a berth in the Big Ten Championship in Indianapolis on December 3 against either Michigan or Ohio State.

Here’s what needs to happen for Illinois to win the Big Ten West this weekend:

1. Iowa must lose to Nebraska

(Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

The Illini will be cheering against Hawkeyes on Friday as they host Nebraska for their final game of the season. Iowa goes into the contest 7-4 after winning four straight games, including a 13-10 triumph over Minnesota last Saturday, while the Huskers go with a 3-8 record.

Should the Hawkeyes win, they would win the Big Ten West regardless of what happens on Saturday.

2. Illinois must beat Northwestern

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

If the Huskers upset the Hawkeyes, Illinois would have something to offer but improve on their bowl goal when they meet in-state rivals Northwestern in the Land of Lincoln game at Ryan Field in Evanston at 2 p.m. Saturday: 30 p.m.

The Illini are big favorites to beat the Wildcats, who have lost ten straight games since an opening week win over Nebraska in Dublin.

Illinois is targeting a second straight win over Northwestern after beating them 47-14 on Nov. 27, 2021 in Champaign. Should Illinois win, it would be the first time they have had eight wins in a regular season since 2007. Illini made his last appearance at the Rose Bowl.

3. Indiana must beat Purdue

(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

While the Illini are playing in Evanston, they will also be rooting for Indiana to beat Purdue when these teams meet at 2:30 p.m. local time in the Old Oaken Bucket game in Bloomington, Indiana.

Since the Boilermakers defeated Illinois at Champaign on November 12, a win by them would eliminate the Illini even if they beat Northwestern and Iowa loses to Nebraska.

For Purdue to win the division title, Iowa would also need to lose as the Hawkeyes beat them earlier this season.

Why is this the scenario?

If Iowa and Purdue lose and Illinois wins, each team has a 5-4 record in the Big Ten.

According to league rules, the first three-way tiebreaker is percentage in the games between the tied teams. Illinois, Iowa and Purdue are tied 1-1, resulting in a second tiebreak.

This is the winning percentage against division teams, meaning that should they win and the Boilers and Hawkeys lose this weekend, Illini would triumph:

  • Illinois-5-1
  • Iowa-4-2
  • Purdue-3-3

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