Nebraska Iowa Football

Iowa quarterback Alex Padilla (8) fumbles as he is tackled by Nebraska linebacker Eteva Mauga-Clements (5) during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Friday, Nov. 25, 2022, in Iowa City, Iowa. 

Friday update:

One down, one to go for the Illini to have a chance to reach its first Big Ten championship game.

Nebraska put together a dominating first-half performance, then hung on for dear life, to beat Iowa 24-17 on Friday.

The heavily favored Hawkeyes needed a win to clinch a spot in next weekend's Big Ten title game in Indianapolis.

A loss opens the door for Purdue and Illinois, who play road games on Saturday afternoon.

****

Illinois missed it by thatmuch.

If not for the accurate leg of Michigan kicker Jake Moody, Bret Bielema's team would have stunned the No. 3-ranked Wolverines on Saturday and vaulted back into The Associated Press Top 25.

No such luck.

Still, there is road back into the rankings for the Illini and it involves earning a place in the Big Ten title game. Hang with me here and let me explain:

Illinois has a chance to play the Ohio State-Michigan winner for in the conference championship on Dec. 3. More on that later.

As best as my colleagues and I can decipher, Illinois needs three things to happen this week to take the Big Ten West.

— First, it must beat Northwestern, which seems easy except that Pat Fitzgerald will have the Wildcats ready and wants nothing more than to spoil the Illini hopes.

— Second, Illinois needs Nebraska to upset Iowa on Friday at Kinnick Stadium, otherwise, the Hawkeyes are going back to Lucas Oil Stadium.

— Third, hope host Indiana shocks Purdue on Saturday. Before you scoff, remember the Hoosiers beat Michigan State this weekend. And there is nothing they like better than getting the best of the Boilers.

If Illinois makes it back, I've got an early prediction should Michigan be on the other side: the Illini will avenge Saturday's loss in Ann Arbor. They should have won the first time and the teams are evenly matched. Plus. in a coaching acumen battle between Bielema and weirdo Jim Harbaugh, I'd go with Bielema.

Don't you want to find out if I'm right?

Enough speculation, here is my latest AP Top 25:

TEAM PREVIOUS

1. Georgia 1

2. Ohio State 2

3. Michigan 3

4. TCU 4

5. Southern California 6

6. LSU 7

7. Alabama 8

8. Penn State 10

9. Clemson 9

10. Oregon 13

11. Tennessee 5

12. Kansas State 18

13. Notre Dame 17

14. Washington 19

15. Florida State 21

16. Tulane 20

17. Utah 11

18. Mississippi 14

19. Coastal Carolina 22

20. Cincinnati 23

21. North Carolina 12

22. UCLA 16

23. Oregon State --

24. Texas --

25. UTSA --

Bob Asmussen can be reached at 217-393-8248 or by email at asmussen@news-gazette.com.

College Football Reporter/Columnist

Bob Asmussen is a college football reporter and columnist for The News-Gazette. His email is asmussen@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@BobAsmussen).

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