Nittany Lions are In With a Win at MSU

You can stop working on all those crazy Big Ten scenarios. For Penn State, there is only one way to secure the conference's automatic BCS bid — beat Michigan State in East Lansing next weekend. Fortunately for Joe Paterno's club, it is the only one of three contenders that controls its own destiny.

The race for the Big Ten's automatic bid to the BCS has boiled down to the final weekend of the season. And Penn State is the only one of three league teams with automatic-bid hopes that still controls its own destiny.

If the Nittany Lions win at Michigan State next Saturday (4 p.m. kickoff, ESPN), they get the automatic bid. If they lose to the Spartans, the winner of the Ohio State at Michigan showdown earlier in the day (1 p.m., ABC) gets the nod. It is that simple.

Here is why: Right now, Penn State and Ohio State are tied atop the Big Ten standings with twin 6-1 records. So if the Nittany Lions beat MSU, the worst they can do is tie the Buckeyes for the league championship, with both teams at 7-1. In that instance, PSU holds the BCS tiebreaker edge because it beat OSU head to head.

If Ohio State beats Michigan and then Penn State falls to Michigan State, the Buckeyes are the outright league champs with a 7-1 record and get the BCS nod.

If Michigan beats Ohio State and then Penn State falls to Michigan State, the Wolverines, Buckeyes and Nittany Lions will finish in a three-way tie for the Big Ten championship, all with 6-2 marks. But Michigan will get the automatic BCS bid by virtue of its head-to-head victories over OSU and PSU.

Even with a loss to Michigan State, the Nittany Lions will receive strong consideration for a BCS at-large bid. Likewise, if Ohio State beats Michigan and PSU beats MSU, the Buckeyes stand a good chance of getting into the BCS on an at-large basis.

Wisconsin, which entered this weekend's action with a chance to finish with at least a part of the Big Ten championship, took itself out of contention with a lackluster 20-10 home loss to Iowa.

Ohio State clocked Northwestern 48-7 at the Horseshoe Saturday and Michigan destroyed Indiana 41-14 in the Big House.

Michigan State continued its swoon, falling 48-14 at Minnesota. The Spartans have lost five of their last six games. At 5-5 overall, they must beat Penn State next weekend to become bowl eligible.

John L. Smith's team has beaten one opponent with a winning record this season — Notre Dame. MSU's other victories came against Kent State (1-9), Hawaii (3-6), Illinois (2-8) and Indiana (4-6). The Spartans are 1-2 at home in Big Ten play.

The Nittany Lions had a bye this weekend.

Seven Big Ten teams — Penn State (9-1), Ohio State (8-2), Michigan (7-3), Wisconsin (8-3), Minnesota (7-3), Northwestern (6-4) and Iowa (6-4) are now eligible for bowls.


The Nittany Lions are going bowling this year. Want to be a part of the Fight On State bowl package, where you will receive the most travel bang for your buck and have a chance to spend time with folks from the best Penn State site on the Internet?


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