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Standings muddled after PSU defeat

October 19, 2005

Minnesota, Michigan, MSU and Indiana, welcome back to the Big Ten race.

With U-M downing the only undefeated team in the conference, Penn State, every Big Ten team now has at least one conference loss.

Wisconsin, Penn State, Iowa, Northwestern and Ohio State are atop the standings with one loss.

That's one crowded driver's seat. And it gives the two-loss teams in the passenger seat a chance to grab the wheel.

"I don't remember this many teams this early in the season with two losses," U-M head coach Lloyd Carr said. "I think it speaks to the parity of this conference."

Purdue, an early-season favorite, has dropped its last four games. Only the Boilermakers and Illinois, at 0-3 in the Big Ten, can be counted out.

MSU head coach John L. Smith, who counted his team out after its loss to Ohio State, backed off from that statement Monday following Penn State's loss.

"I would never speak too soon," Smith joked.

"Mathematically, I guess that's true. Realistically, you take a look at it and with two you're going to struggle. I guess it's still a possibility."

Nine Big Ten teams have at least four wins, which makes for an interesting final stretch. Teams that play 11 games need to win at least six to become bowl eligible, while teams with 12 games must win seven.

The Big Ten has tie-ins with seven bowls — a BCS bowl, the Capital One, Outback, Alamo, Sun, Music City and Motor City bowls.

A Rose Bowl bid is out of the question now for a Big Ten team, as the game is the BCS Championship game this season. The winner of the Big Ten will land in the Sugar, Fiesta or Orange bowl.

"Certain teams have their destiny in their own hands, some don't," Carr said. "Those teams with two losses do not. That's the reality of it."

Rank and file

Four Big Ten teams appear in the latest Associated Press Top 25 Poll.

Penn State leads the pack at No. 12, followed by No. 14 Ohio State , No. 19 Wisconsin and No. 22 MSU.

Minnesota, U-M, Iowa and Northwestern all received votes.

Basanez honored again

Northwestern quarterback Brett Basanez was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week for the second straight week. He passed for 463 yards and three scores in the Wildcats' 34-29 win at Purdue.

Ohio State linebacker Bobby Carpenter was named Defensive Player of the Week while U-M's Steve Breaston and OSU's Ashton Youboty split special teams honors.

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