The Wisconsin Badgers are going to represent the Leaders division in the Big Ten Championship game. Their path to the title game is simply too easy. The Penn State sanctions completely changed the Big Ten title picture, and have only simplified the Badgers path to another Big Ten title.
Here's a look at why the Badgers path to the title game is simply too easy in 2012.
The Penn State sanctions have resulted in a four year ban from the conference championship. Even if they go undefeated, they can't sniff the postseason. There is also potential for mass transfers in the fallout from the sanctions. Penn State is essentially irrelevant for the next four years.
Even if the Badgers were to lose to the Nittany Lions, the Badgers could still make the championship game.
Ohio State is also in the midst of sanctions, with this being the last year the Buckeyes are ineligible for a bowl game and the Big Ten Championship game.
Similar to the Penn State situation, Wisconsin can lose to the Buckeyes and still make the Championship game. Amazingly, the Badgers can finish third to Ohio State and Penn State and still earn the Leader Divisions berth into the Big Ten Championship game.
Indiana is not a good football team. They are coming off of a one win season and got creamed by Wisconsin in 2011. Considering the massive talent difference, Indiana will be lucky to keep this year’s game close.
Illinois will also be lucky to contend with the Badgers in 2012. The Illini only won two Big Ten games in 2011, and lost to the Badgers at home. Illinois is also breaking in a brand new coaching staff after the hiring of Tim Beckman. Similar to the Hoosiers, Illinois doesn't have the talent to compete with the Badgers.
Neither of these teams will pose a problem for the Badgers in 2012.
Purdue is the Badgers' biggest competition for the Leaders' spot in the Championship game, even though they only won seven games in 2011. However, they did win four Big Ten games, including a win over Ohio State.
There is plenty of optimism in West Lafayette, as Purdue returns a Big Ten leading 19 starters, and could potentially challenge the Badgers for the spot in the Big Ten Championship game.
While the Boilermakers have dreams of grandeur, this is essentially the same team that lost to the Badgers 62-17 in 2011.
The Wisconsin Badgers path to the 2012 Big Ten Championship game is way too easy. One third of the division is ineligible, Indiana is a joke, Illinois is breaking in a new coaching staff, and Purdue lost to the Badgers by 45 in 2011. Wisconsin is a virtual shoe in for the Championship game.
Considering the potential asterisk that could be attached to the Badgers' spot in the Championship game, maybe Wisconsin should embrace Pat Fitzgerald's suggestion for the conference to choose the title game participants. But since the Badgers are the best team in the conference, they will get voted in anyways.