Just a few days ago, I was telling you the Big Ten could advance its case for two teams in the four-team College Football Playoff if Week 3 went well.
I had no idea, though, that it would go as well as it did. If this keeps up, Big Ten commish Jim Delany will be beefing up the Christmas bonuses at the home office in Rosemont, Ill.
Not only did Ohio State and Michigan State win. They won handily on the road, effectively knocking Oklahoma and Notre Dame on their keisters in terms of the playoff.
With the Sooners and Irish reeling, the potential playoff candidates are diminished by two. And Louisville’s pulverizing blow to Florida State doesn’t hurt the Big Ten’s cause, either.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]
The Cardinals are certainly a wonderful CFP contender that nobody will want to play. Especially Clemson. I just tend to believe that with a newbie like Louisville flexing its muscle rather than traditional power FSU, the ACC is less likely to challenge the Big Ten for two playoff slots.
And did we mention that Louisville travels to Houston on Nov. 17? When you're talking one-loss teams, it's looking more and more like, Advantage, Big Ten.
At this point, Alabama, Ohio State and Louisville are tracking for CFP invites.
That fourth slot? Michigan still has a good case. But after what Michigan State did at Notre Dame on Saturday, I wouldn’t rule out Sparty, who gets the Buckeyes and the Wolverines at home.
``When you don’t play well, and when people sort of write you off a little bit, you have a tendency to rise up a little bit,’’ MSU coach Mark Dantonio said after the big win in South Bend. ``I think that’s what we did. We had something to prove.’’
I’m thinking he wasn’t just talking about questioning of his players after they slogged past Furman.
I’m thinking that Dantonio is getting weary of living in the shadow of Jim Harbaugh. Actually, I’m thinking he’s beyond weary of that.
What the Ohio State and Michigan State wins did on Saturday was good for them and Michigan. They’re all on a collision course. But if they continue to bulk up their resumes, they’ll be better positioned to jockey past other playoff contenders.
Also, the way they are playing ought to be encouraging for their chances of continued success.
THE MILD, MILD WEST
Quick recap of the Big Ten’s `other’ division. . . Good win for Nebraska, squeaking past an Oregon that has dropped down the Pac-12 totem pole. But I want to see more.
Even with Wisconsin narrowly avoiding disaster against Georgia State, and Iowa experiencing the agony of defeat vs. North Dakota State, I consider the Badgers and Hawkeyes more likely to win the West.
Western Michigan, which stunned Northwestern 22-21 in its opener, didn’t merely complete its Land of Lincoln conquest in Champaign Saturday.
In thrashing Illinois 34-10, it poured cold water on the Lovie Smith feel-good story. The Illini needed to show better to keep program momentum going. Now they don’t fare well in comparison to Northwestern, which drives Illini Nation crazy.
Also, Illini assumptions about this season need to remain realistic. Yes, Purdue and Rutgers and Minnesota and Northwestern remain on the schedule.
But fans of those four schools are looking at Illinois on their schedules, and thinking the same optimistic thoughts.
On the bright side, it’s not like English soccer, where Western Michigan moves up to the Big Ten and NU or Illinois get bumped to the MAC.
BIG TEN POWER RANKINGS,
THE JUGGERNAUTS. . .
1, Ohio State (3-0): Big win at Oklahoma. Still on CFP cruise control. (No. 1 last week)
2, Michigan State (2-0): Even if Irish are messy, mighty big win at Notre Dame. (5)
3, Michigan (3-0): Excellent comeback vs. Colorado. Sloppy start not good, though. (2)
WESTERN (DIVISION) CIVILIZATION. . .
4, Nebraska (3-0): Good win vs. Oregon a very good sign. (6)
5, Wisconsin (3-0): Trouble with Georgia State? Truoble at quarterback? Not good signs. (3)
6, Iowa (2-1): Yeah, North Dakota State is good. But this loss is bad. (4)
GOOD STARTS SO FAR. . .
7, Maryland (3-0): 3-0 is 3-0. With Purdue, Penn State and Minnesota next, is 6-0 possible? (11)
8, Minnesota (2-0): Rested up for winnable trip to Happy Valley. (7)
9, Indiana (2-0): Can get to 3-0 vs. Wake Forest this week before some #B1G challenges. (9)
BUMPETY BUMP, , ,
10, Penn State (2-1): `Avenged’ loss to Temple? Do that vs. Michigan this week. Then we’ll talk. (8)
11, Northwestern (1-2): Not at all like beating Duke in hoops. But it was very much needed.(13)
12, Purdue (1-1): Nevada at home, Maryland and Illinois on the road. If it’s going to happen, it will be in next three. (12)
13, Rutgers (2-1): Rally to beat New Mexico? It beats the alternative as well as the Lobos. (14)
14, Illinois (1-2): Lots of room on Lovie bandwagon after blowout loss to Western Michigan. (10)[/membership]