Attention! Attention, please! Have your pencil and scorecard ready, and we will give you the battery of scenarios for the Big Ten’s championship game and College Football Playoff prospects. . .
MICHIGAN: Very simple. If the Wolverines, who are No. 3 in the CFP, beat Ohio State, they advance to the Big Ten title game. Another win there, and they are locks for the CFP’s Final Four.
OHIO STATE:[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]If the No. 2 Buckeyes beat Michigan and Michigan State upsets Penn State, they are in the conference championship game, where a win puts them in the CFP playoffs.
PENN STATE: If the No. 8 Nittany Lions beat Michigan State and Ohio State beats Michigan, they earn the East Division slot in the Big Ten title game by virtue of their head-to-head win vs. Ohio State.
With a win in the Big Ten championship game, the Nittany Lions are in the CFP playoff discussion. No. 5 Louisville’s loss helped a lot. Another loss for No. 6 Washington would enhance their chances. No. 9 Oklahoma, coming off its big win at West Virginia, also is a very serious contender.
WISCONSIN: A final win vs. Minnesota locks up the No. 7 Badgers’ fourth Big Ten championship game appearance in the six-year history of the event. They would be in the same situation as Penn State—jockeying with Washington and Oklahoma.
BOTTOM LINES. . . For all the season-long talk about Ohio State and Michigan, if Penn State or Wisconsin is the Big Ten champion, with a win over the Buckeyes or the Wolverines, they’re going to have really compelling cases for the Final Four.
Then the question becomes, does the committee take two Big Ten teams, a Penn State/Wisconsin champion AND Michigan or Ohio State? Or does it snub the Big Ten champion to take a Big Boy runner-up?
A lot depends on what happens with Washington and Oklahoma. Both have tough rivalry games remaining, against No. 22 Washington State and No. 11 Oklahoma State. The Huskies also face a challenging Pac-12 title game.
" target="_blank">If you think more than one team per conference ought to be in the playoff, you will really like Uncle Herb’s totally logical argument for . . . an eight-team playoff.
The one question I keep pondering: Is there a scenario where Michigan and Ohio State both end up in the Final Four?
I don’t see a clear path. That’s where their upset losses matter—which is why an expanded four-team (or eight-team) playoff does not diminish the regular season.
Again, all of these scenarios come down to what happens elsewhere, especially with Washington and Oklahoma, which have serious challenges remaining. And while it’s reasonable to assume that Alabama and Clemson, who squared off in last year’s title game, won’t step in anything untidy, Auburn and South Carolina are not making assumptions like that.
SEC East winner Florida and ACC title-game candidates Virginia Tech and North Carolina aren’t, either.
In other words, play on.
BIG TEN POWER RANKINGS,
THE JUGGERNAUTS. . .
1, Ohio State (10-1, 7-1): Survived blustery trip to Michigan State 17-16. Will `welcome’ Michigan to Horseshoe Saturday for All. . . The. . . Marbles. (No. 1)
2, Michigan (10-1, 7-1): Houston transfer John O’Korn steps in at QB, guides win past Indiana. Are Wolverines ready for next step in Big Game at Ohio State? (No. 2 last week)
THE BEST IN THE WEST. . .
3, Wisconsin (9-2, 6-2): Can lock up Big Ten West in home finale vs. Minnesota, which looked serious in 29-12 win over Northwestern. (No. 3)
BACK! BACK! BACK!
4, Penn State (9-2, 7-1): After 39-0 rout at Rutgers, can secure Big Ten title game berth with win over Michigan State. (No. 4)
THE MUDDLE IN THE MIDDLE. . .
5, Nebraska (9-2, 6-2): If Cornhuskers take care of business at Iowa and Badgers stumble vs. Minnesota, Nebraska is in the Big Ten championship game. (No. 6)
6, Minnesota (8-3, 5-3): Really good best-of-season win vs. Northwestern puts frosting on excellent debut campaign for Tracy Claeys. But the seven targeting penalties this fall are UNACCEPTABLE. Clean it up, Gophers. (No. 9)
7, Iowa (7-4, 5-3): Hawkeyes, who followed season-making upset of Michigan with win at Illinois, can really make a nice finishing statement in finale vs. Nebraska. (No. 5)
8, Northwestern (5-6, 4-4): Another slow start spelled doom in 29-12 loss at Minneosta, and diminished bowl destinations. Wildcats now must win vs. Illinois merely to be be bowl-eligible. Destination probably won’t be as warm, though. (No. 7)
9, Indiana (5-6, 3-4): After losses to Penn State and Michigan, Old Oaken Bucket rivalry game vs. Purdue is Hoosiers’ last chance to earn a second straight bowl bid. (No. 8)
10, Maryland (5-6, 2-6): Terrapins need to end four-game losing streak vs. Rutgers to secure their bowl invitation. If they can’t do that, they don’t deserve a bowl trip. (No. 10).
NO SOUP (BOWL) FOR YOU. . .
11, Michigan State (3-8, 1-7): Excellent showing in 17-16 loss to Ohio State, including brash decision to go for broke with failed two-point PAT. But oh, that seven-game losing streak. At least four of those were not good. Not good at all. Can spoil Penn State’s season, too, with an upset this week. (No. 11)
12, Illinois (3-8, 2-6): Illini have been beaten by a combined 76-3 the last two weeks vs. Wisconsin and Iowa. They now have one last chance to make Lovie Smith smile vs. instate rival Northwestern, which faces must-win for bowl trip. (No. 12)
13, Purdue (3-8, 1-7): Can spoil Indiana’s season in finale. Another rivalry game where a bowl berth is on the line along with bragging rights. (No. 13)
14, Rutgers (2-9, 0-8): Trip to Maryland is last chance to get off the Big Ten schneid for the Scarlet Knights. Maryland, which faces its last chance to go bowling, won’t be sympathetic. (No. 14)[/membership]