Let’s face it. All around the nation, voters are down on Washington, and political candidates are keeping their distance from the nation’s capital.
It’s pretty much the same deal with the college football Washington. Despite being unbeaten, the Huskies were ranked No. 5 behind one-loss Texas A&M in the first College Football Playoff poll.
And even though A&M lost Saturday, the anti-Washington sentiment may continue this week.
Don’t be surprised if No. 6 Ohio State jumps up to No. 4 while the Huskies again are left to growl about the injustice of it all.
The Buckeyes put up a big number on Saturday, thrashing Nebraska 62-3. Yes, that Nebraska—the one that was unbeaten two games ago and thinking about a write-in CFP campaign.
That 59-point margin is the same one Ohio State used in 2014 to catapult itself into a national championship. After pummeling Wisconsin 59-0 in the Big Ten championship game, Ohio State moved up one slot to No. 4, sneaking into the four-team field on the final ballot.
Let’s just say. . . Urban Meyer knows how to play the game.
@ Still lurking, and ready to gum things up, is surging Penn State. In the event that Michigan stumbles before it faces Ohio State, the Nittany Lions would be the East Division representative in the Big Ten title game.
That’s looking even more unlikely now, though. Michigan’s toughest other game is at Iowa on Nov. 12. And the Hawkeyes, who were thumped 41-14 at Penn State on Saturday, appear to be clawless.
@ Nebraska’s second loss means Wisconsin is now in control of its own destiny in the Big Ten West. The Badgers, Cornhuskers and Minnesota all are 4-2, but Wisconsin wins the head-to-head tie-breaker with Nebraska and will have its opportunity to dispatch the Gophers on Nov. 26.
@ When Michigan State won at Notre Dame on Sept. 18, it looked like a threat to give Ohio State and Michigan a rough time in the Big Ten East.
Since then, though, Sparty has had nothing but a rough time of its own. Michigan State lost its seventh straight since its big win in South Bend, falling at Illinois 31-27 on Saturday.
Kudos to the Illini, who were guided by No. 3 QB Jeff George Jr., who seemed headed for a redshirt year until Wes Lunt and Chayce Crouch went down with injuries.
But the Spartans, who won the Big Ten title last year, not only are the biggest disappointment in the Big Ten. They may be the flop of the year nationally, although Notre Dame also is in the hunt for that dubious distinction.
And wouldn’t that be one hell of an overtime?
@ Step right up. Michigan State will welcome the Big Ten’s other winless squad, Rutgers, to East Lansing on Saturday. Tickets start at $6 on Stubhub. But they may drop as the week goes on.
BIG TEN POWER RANKINGS,
THE JUGGERNAUTS. . .
1, Michigan (9-0, 6-0): Like Ol’ Man River, the Wolverines just keep rolling. Harbaugh’s talk about QB Wilton Speight in Heisman race is a reach, but Jabrill Peppers could be in New York to applaud Louisville's Lamar Jackson. Talk about Michigan’s national championship chances are no joke, though. (No. 1 last week)
2, Ohio State (8-1, 5-1): With the 62-3 rout of Nebraska, Buckeyes’ offense is back. And—sorry, Washington—with Texas A&M’s loss, don’t be surprised if Buckeyes are in top four in this week’s CFP rankings. (No. 2)
THE BEST IN THE WEST. . .
3, Wisconsin (7-2, 4-2): With Nebraska’s meltdown at Ohio State, Badgers now control their own route to the Big Ten West title. They juggled QBs in 21-7 win at Northwestern, another buttoned-down win against another quality opponent. (No. 3)
BACK! BACK! BACK!
4, Penn State (7-2, 5-1): Nothing will top that signature upset win over Ohio State. But the 41-14 steamrollering of Iowa on Saturday further validates the revival that’s going on in Happy Valley. (No. 6)
THE MUDDLE IN THE MIDDLE. . .
5, Nebraska (7-2, 4-2): Second straight road loss, at Ohio State (after Wisconsin), brings previously unbeaten Cornhuskers back to middle earth. But Mike Riley’s second season is establishing a very positive foundation for the future. (No. 4)
6, Northwestern (4-5, 3-3): Second straight top-10 loss shows that NU has a ways to go before it can play with the Big Ten’s big boys. But Wildcats, likely to be favored in their final three games (at Purdue and Minnesota, vs. Illinois) can atone for rocky start with strong finish. (No. 5)
7, Iowa (5-4, 3-3): After being drilled at Penn State, Hawkeyes need to make sure bottom doesn’t fall out in challenging finish, which includes tough home dates vs. Michigan and Nebraska, plus trip to Illinois. (No. 7)
8, Indiana (5-4, 3-3): Struggled past Rutgers, but a win is a win. Need to keep chinstrap buckled for Penn State and Michigan, and then take care of business vs. Purdue to become bowl eligible. (No. 8)
9, Minnesota (7-2, 4-2): Technically, the Gophers could win the Big Ten West if they handle their final three games against Nebraska, Northwestern and Wisconsin. Realistically, one more win would be a pretty good thing. No matter what, Gophers are going bowling. (No. 9)
10, Maryland (5-4, 2-4): If you thought Harbaugh might lift off the pedal against former assistant D.J. Durkin, forget it. The Michigan coach walloped the Terps 59-3. Maryland faces toughies vs. Ohio State and at Nebraska the next two weeks, but can sneak into a bowl in its final game vs. Rutgers. (No. 10).
DOWN. BUT LOOKING UP.
11, Illinois (3-6, 2-4): It was a nice Dad’s Day for former QB Jeff George. His son, Jeff Jr., QB'd the Illini past hapless Michigan State after a week in which Lovie Smith reportedly was so ``miserable’’ and discouraged that he was considering quitting at season’s end. Look for another cup of misery, though, at Wisconsin this week. (No. 13)
12, Purdue (3-6, 1-5): Give the Boilermakers credit for doing some good things in 44-31 loss at Minnesota. But give them another loss and keep wondering whether they can find the right coach to right this listing ship. (No. 12)
13, Rutgers (2-7, 0-6): Showed progress for second straight game, opening 24-13 third-quarter lead before losing to Indiana 33-27. Will get another chance in meeting with the Big Ten’s other remaining winless wonder, Michigan State. (No. 14)
HOW LOW CAN YOU GO?
14, Michigan State (2-7, 0-6): Every team is bound to have the occasional bad season. But this Spartan meltdown is beyond comprehension. From No. 8 in the nation and a win at Notre Dame to a seven-game losing streak? This is a blot on Mark Dantonio’s resume that won’t be erased easily. (No. 11)