This weekend wasn't bad enough to refer to this straight up as a carnage report, so we'll need to dress it up with a little positivity first. Let's take a look at the COTTON CANDY SMILES CARNAGE REPORT:
- In a matchup that proved ESPN will literally show anything on television so long as it is tangentially related to something resembling a sport, Iowa came back to beat Pitt in the 4th quarter. While the game may not have been pretty, it was a good start for the B1G to get a win over a power conference team.
- MSU, Purdue, Minnesota, Penn State, and Northwestern all hosted cupcakes and beat them handily. Thank God.
- Illinois also hosted a cupcake and, thanks to a 17-point 4th quarter, scraped by Texas State and scored more points than they did in the end. Which is technically a victory.
- Rutgers beat Navy. This game happened. There are photos and everything.
- Wisconsin beat NOTABLY TOUGH MAC OPPONENT BOWLING GREEN and good for them for taking care of business. A lot of really good teams, teams good enough to compete in the SEC East, can sometimes have perfectly normal hiccups against NOTABLY TOUGH MAC OPPONENT BOWLING GREEN.
- Nebraska beat Miami by a lot more than the final score indicates. As a UMiami alum, I felt a twinge of sadness before resuming celebrating Indiana's football ELITENESS.
- (Everyone in the conference folds their arms and sighs in Michigan's direction.) We're not mad. We're just disappointed.
B1G in the CFP?
INDIANA Nebraska: Whether they've got the chops to do it or not, at 4-0 with a win over Miami, Nebraska currently has the best THEORETICAL chance to get into the discussion. The big problem is they'll likely have to finish undefeated, and that means road wins over MSU and Wisconsin, which I can't imagine that résumé being turned down. I also can't imagine the Cornhuskers beat both of those squads on the road. It's not a probable road, but they're alive for now.
B1G Bowl Tears
Tier 1 (New Year's Worthy): Michigan State
Tier 2: Ohio State, Wisconsin, Nebraska
Tier 3: Penn State, Indiana, Iowa
Tier 4: Minnesota
Won't Have to Lose a Bowl Game: Maryland, Michigan, Rutgers, Northwestern, Purdue, Illinois
As the season advances, I think the B1G will prove to be the worst of the Power 5 while still filling most of their bowl bids because of a somewhat embarrassing amalgamation of 6-7 win teams that will struggle to differentiate themselves. I think Nebraska falls short of their bid to get into the CFP, but maybe they do enough to get into the New Year's fun. The win over Miami was a good start, but let's see if they can stay out of the B1G muck for the season.
Michigan, Rutgers, and Maryland could easily get back into the bowl conversation but they're out for two different reasons. Michigan looks completely incapable of doing anything correctly at the moment and Rutgers has one meatgrinder of a conference schedule that I'm not entire convinced they can survive. In a 5 game stretch starting October 18th the Scarlet Knights go on the road to Ohio State and Nebraska, come home to play Wisconsin and Indiana, then head back on the road to play Michigan State. Does anyone feel even remotely comfortable picking them to win any of those games? Indiana is the easiest on the slate, so I don't imagine anyone in this community is picking a win. That reduces Rutgers margin for error to practically zero, and in a conference of teams in need of large margins for error, that's not a good thing. Likewise for Maryland, their schedule will likely prevent them from winning too many more games this year.
MICHIGAN STATE: At-Large Bid to the Cotton Bowl against Baylor
OHIO STATE: Capital One Bowl against South Carolina
WISCONSIN: Holiday Bowl against USC
NEBRASKA: Outback Bowl against Mizzou
PENN STATE: Pinstripe Bowl against Pittsburgh
INDIANA: Music City Bowl against Ole Miss
IOWA: San Francisco Bowl against Washington
MINNESOTA: Quick Lane Bowl against Boston College