After 2 big upsets, the Big Ten's in real danger of missing the Playoff for the 1st time
Thereâs nothing in the College Football Playoffâs rulebook that says a two-loss team canât make the field of four. But none has done it in the eventâs first three seasons, which means unless the committee breaks with precedent this year, the Big Tenâs now down to one possible Playoff team: the 9-0 Wisconsin Badgers.
Ohio State and Penn State both got second losses on Saturday, the Buckeyes gored by Iowa and PSU edged in a marathon at Michigan State. The Spartans join Ohio State as the East division leaders, an d MSUâs got Ls at the hands of Notre Dame and Northwestern.
This was a really, really bad Saturday for the conference.
Before, it had three teams with one loss or fewer. In other words, it had three teams that still hadnât lost more games than any Playoff team ever.
Now it has one such team. That team has played a bad schedule all year and could well be an underdog in the league championship. Other than that, good Saturday!
The Big Tenâs only clear Playoff path is Wisconsin winning the league after a 12-0 regular season.
Wisconsinâs on cruise control in the West, a division the Badgers will clinch with their next win. Theyâll play in the Big Ten Championship on Dec. 2 in Indianapolis, and if they donât lose before then, itâll likely be a Playoff play-in for them.
Letâs just assume the Badgers win their last three games. If they donât, their weak schedule likely precludes them from making the Playoff even if they win.
It would be mind-blowing for Wisconsin to make the Playoff with anything less than a Big Ten title and an unbeaten record, because the Badgers have spent their season beating up on Marylands and Indianas and Purdues and BYUs and you get the picture. The Badgersâ best win would be against, uh, Iowa? Thatâs not a Playoff resume.
But if you go 13-0 in the Big Ten, then yeah, youâre in.
If the East champion beats UW in Indy, the Big Tenâs probably out.
So the Big Ten would have to hope one of its two-loss teams â" whichever one has beaten Wisconsin in the title game â" becomes a Playoff trailblazer and gets in.
Ohio State is the likeliest two-loss Big Ten champ, for what thatâs worth.
The Buckeyes are more talented than anyone else in the division (whether they always play like it or not), and they still control their own destiny in the East race. So does Michigan State, which visits Columbus next weekend. Mark Dantonioâs Spartans have beaten OSU at the Horseshoe before, but the winner has outright first place.
If the Buckeyes win out, theyâll be something like 4-1 against Playoff top-25 teams on Selection Sunday, plus a horrible loss to Iowa. That record would be about average for a Playoff participant ... plus a horrible loss to Iowa. It would not be helpful if the Buckeyesâ two losses were absolute destructions.
A two-loss Big Ten squad making it would also require chaos elsewhere.
Several of these teams have gotta go:
- The winner of the impending Alabama-Georgia SEC Championship Game will take one Playoff spot. Itâs possible that the loser will take another.
- The winner of the impending Miami-Clemson ACC Championship Game will take another, unless Clemson gets a second loss before then or Miami loses twice.
- If the Big 12 champion has one loss â" possible if itâs Oklahoma or TCU â" that teamâs taking one spot.
- Notre Dameâ s still around, as are Washington and even two-loss Auburn.
The Big Tenâs still not totally cooked.
But itâs certainly on the ropes. If Ohio State or Michigan State winds up beating the Badgers in December, the league might have its face pressed up against the glass.
Next Up In College Football
- Tracking Week 10's top 25 impact, all Saturday long
- 21 Florida coaching search names to know
- Why November is the best part of CFB season
- A complete history of WE WANT BAMA
- 2007: The inside story of the greatest CFB season ever
- Our 9-point plan to upgrade college football