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Big Ten will need strong final month from struggling teams to fill 8 reserved bowl slots

  • d7a0319cf35dfb24410f6a70670082ae.jpg

    Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller, left, talks with head coach Urban Meyer during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Purdue in West Lafayette, Ind., Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) (The Associated Press)

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    Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller, right, fakes a hand off to running back Carlos Hyde during the first half of an NCAA college football game in West Lafayette, Ind., Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) (The Associated Press)

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    Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard (16) is sacked by Wisconsin defensive end Pat Muldoon during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013, in Iowa City, Iowa. Wisconsin won 28-9. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall) (The Associated Press)

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    Northwestern wide receiver Rashad Lawrence (17) and Northwestern wide receiver Andrew Scanlan (82) walk off the field following a 27-24 loss to Nebraska in an NCAA college football game in Lincoln, Neb., Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik) (The Associated Press)

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    Nebraska wide receiver Alonzo Moore (2) and wide receiver Sam Burtch (9) react after wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp, left, caught the game winning touchdown over Northwestern center back Dwight White (2) and linebacker Chi Chi Ariguzo (44) with seconds to go in the second half of an NCAA college football game against Northwestern in Lincoln, Neb., Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013. Nebraska won 27-24. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik) (The Associated Press)

No. 4 Ohio State is chasing perfection and a chance play for a national championship. No. 18 Michigan State has the inside track to the Big Ten championship game.

Four other conference teams are bowl-eligible and Iowa could join that list with a win this weekend.

But with only four weeks left in the regular season, the Big Ten is looking at the possibility of coming up short in postseason play again — even before the bowl lineups are announced. With eight bowl tie-ins, six qualifiers and Iowa on the cusp, the last available spot will have to be filled by one of three teams that are a combined 1-12 in league play this season: Illinois, Indiana or Northwestern.