It was a chaotic weekend across college football. Let’s recap.
Tier 4: 2017 is a long ways away
The Scarlet Knights have now lost Big Ten games this season by the scores of 58-0, 78-0, and 49-0. The addition of Rutgers to the B1G continues to be the biggest sign that the conference cares only about money, and not at all about competitive balance.
(Presses “sim to end” on Illinois 2016 football season)
12. Michigan State
With games against Ohio State and Penn State looming, last weekend was most likely Michigan State’s last big chance to win a football game, and they sure took advantage of it.
Okay, so the Boilers are stringing together good halves of football, but they can’t seem to get a full game together, so I’m worried all of the sudden everything will break right for them in the Bucket Game.
Tier 3: The Troy Williams tier - sometimes they do good things and other times they do bad
DJ Durkin, who has spent time under both Jim Harbaugh and Urban Meyer, has now been outscored 121-6 by his two mentors in his past two games with the Terps.
Lost to Nebraska in the VERY IMPORTANT $5 Bits of Broken Chair Trophy game. No offense to the Gophers, who are probably fine, but they’re the least memorable 7-3 team in any conference right now.
It was Groundhog Day once again for the Hoosiers, who played a top-10 team close all game until they lost control at the end. Like it or not, this is Indiana football’s brand, and on a chaotic college football weekend, #CHAOSTEAM just couldn’t break through. If you’ve followed IU football under Kevin Wilson, nothing about this game should have surprised you at all.
Easily beat Purdue to get back to .500. A game against Minnesota this weekend could determine the difference in their bowl pecking order.
Tier 2: Corn on the cob
Got a much-needed victory over Minnesota to wash away the negative thoughts of the Ohio State blowout. The fate of the Huskers winning the Big Ten West all rests on Wisconsin losing one of its final two games, which seems unlikely at this point.
All season long, the Hawkeyes have been somewhat of a conference laughingstock, even though they haven’t necessarily been terrible. The Ferentz contract, the loss to North Dakota State, only scoring 14 against Rutger, Ferentz forgetting how to math, the typically bad Greg Davis offense, etc. – all of these amused B1G fans.
Then Saturday night happened. Michigan, a national title contender with seemingly all the resources at their hands, came into Iowa thinking there was no way they could lose. This was just another step in their coronation at the top of the conference, and nothing could go wrong against a reeling Hawkeyes team, right? Well, turns out it did go wrong, and Iowa eked out a 14-13 nailbiter in Kinnick.
Does this upset sound at all like another recent event that happened last week?
Tier 1: NY6/CFP contenders
4. Penn State
Survived a tough 45-31 battle from Indiana, despite Saquon Barkley having a rough day on the ground. And with Michigan’s loss, the Nittany Lions just need to take care of business and hope OSU beats Michigan in order to reach the B1G title game.
Uncharacteristically, the Badgers scored a lot of points this weekend! But the defense was very characteristic, and if Barry Alvarez and Paul Chryst don’t watch out, another team could poach DC Justin Wilcox at the end of this season, like LSU did with Dave Aranda last year.
Turns out the Wolverines can be beat! We’ll have much more about Michigan later this week (and Jim Harbaugh), but I’ll just throw this out now: This is going to be a very, very angry team when Indiana comes to the Big House on Saturday. Tread lightly, Hoosiers.
1. Ohio State
Here’s the irony about OSU. Right now they’re playing the best of any team in the B1G again. However, their Big Ten title game hopes are incredibly slim, even if they do win The Game in two weeks. I’m almost dreading a scenario in which PSU and OSU both finish 8-1, with the Nittany Lions winning the tiebreaker, because the amount of self-righteous Buckeye fans who will be Mad Online could break the internet if this happens.
Three non-B1G teams I liked:
Georgia – I was in Athens for an SEC football weekend with three friends, so we had to go to Sanford Stadium and check the game out. Although UGA’s offense was yet again laughable (their one touchdown in the game came off a pick-6), the Bulldogs shut down a top-10 Auburn team whose offense had been humming in recent weeks, holding the Tigers to zero first downs in the second half.
Alabama – So many top teams took serious L’s this week, but Bama of course crushed Mississippi State, 51-3. The Nick Saban machine takes no prisoners. Roll tide, I guess.
Oklahoma – Dismantled a reeling Baylor team, 45-24. After starting the season off 1-2 including an embarrassing home loss to Ohio State, the Sooners have found their footing and won seven in a row. OU ends the season with two of their biggest competitors for the Big 12 title (WVU and Oklahoma State), and convincing wins in these games could put them in position to be a playoff dark horse.
Three non-B1G teams I didn’t like:
Washington – Lost to USC, who may have ended any CFP dreams for the Huskies. If UW does rally from this loss and finish 12-1, however, one decision that the CFP committee will have to make is how their resume stacks up to other one-loss teams who don’t make their conference title game (Louisville and Ohio State are the most likely teams in this category).
Clemson – Say, can anyone think of a term when Clemson surprisingly loses to an unranked team? The Tigers had been playing with fire all season in close wins over Auburn, Louisville, NC State, and Florida State. Last weekend, however, this style finally came back to haunt them, as they lost a 43-42 barnburner at home to Pitt. The Tigers still control their own ACC title destiny, which should be enough for a Playoff spot if they win out, but they can no longer be considered a lock either.
Oregon – Another week, another game in which the once-mighty Ducks get destroyed by a conference opponent. Though I don’t think Chip Kelly is coming back, I wouldn’t be surprised if Phil Knight opens the checkbook for a new coach this offseason.