INDIANA BEAT PURDUE SO BADLY THEY FELT COMPELLED TO GIVE THEM POINTS AT THE END OF THE GAME AS A GESTURE OF GOODWILL. WHAT DID THE REST OF THE CONFERENCE DO?
- Ohio State beat Michigan, thanks to a controversial first down awarded in overtime on a 4th-and-shot run by JT Barrett. The giant argument that ensured basically proves how inconclusive the video was, meaning letting the call on the field stand was right. I now await the herd of Michigan Men who will upend my mailbox.
- Iowa destroyed Nebraska and the Huskers will finish the regular season 9-3, which is now apparently ... good? The Hawkeyes' strong finish probably helps the Hoosiers bowl hopes.
- Wisconsin scored 21 points in the 4th quarter to surge in front of Minnesota, and now have the chance to stake their claim for the playoff next week in Indianapolis.
- Penn State pulverized Michigan State after a slow start, and (somehow) make a playoff claim next week as well.
- Northwestern beat Illinois and Maryland beat Rutgers to snag their sixth win of the season, and join Indiana in a huddled mess of teams at the bottom of the Big Ten bowl-eligible crowd.
B1G in the CFP
THE FAVORITE: Ohio State
THE DARK HORSE(S): Wisconsin, Penn State
I'M SURE WE CAN THINK OF SOMETHING: Michigan
It says everything you need to know about the Big Ten this season to have FOUR TEAMS being talked about in connection with the playoff. I was met with some resistance last week but have only been emboldened since: Ohio State is a lock for the playoff. They have one loss (at division champion Penn State), with wins at Oklahoma, at Wisconsin, and vs. Michigan. In fact, barring a collapse in the championship game by Clemson or Washington, I imagine the B1G Championship has been reduced to a play-in game for the Rose Bowl.
But if Clemson / Washington slip up (even an Alabama loss won't boot them from the playoff), the winner of the B1G should see the door swing wide open for them, especially if it's Wisconsin. Wisconsin has forgivable losses (@ Michigan, vs. Ohio State) but really only has that win over Les-Miles-broken-ass-LSU and I suppose the Iowa win is aging well.
Essentially, the Big Ten is going to put the committee's feet to the fire when it comes to "best teams" vs. "most deserving teams." The purest interpretation of the former wouldn't ding Michigan too harshly for losing in overtime to a team that I have declared a lock for the playoff, but I still don't think the Wolverines are going to hear their name called when it's all said and done. A two-loss team that didn't win their conference is a difficult sell as "better" than a bunch of teams with either one loss or a conference championship.
MY TOP FOUR: 1. Alabama 2. Clemson 3. Washington 4. Ohio State
Bowl Projections (bowl-eligible teams marked with an *)
Ohio State*: CFP Semifinal vs. Alabama
Wisconsin*: Rose Bowl vs. Colorado
Michigan*: Orange Bowl vs. Louisville
Penn State*: Cotton Bowl vs. Western Michigan
Nebraska*: Outback Bowl vs. Florida
Iowa*: Holiday Bowl vs. Washington State
Indiana*: Music City Bowl vs. Kentucky
Northwestern*: Pinstripe Bowl vs. Georgia Tech
Minnesota*: Foster Farms Bowl vs. Stanford
Maryland*: Quick Lane Bowl vs. Boston College
I desperately wanted to rematch Iowa and Stanford in the Holiday Bowl but that probably won't happen. Anyway #IUFB2NASHVILLE is alive and well now that Iowa has transcended that tier of bowls, taking Minnesota's place among the top bowls with B1G tie-ins that aren't NY6 bowls.
Remember, good matchups and support considerations all take a backseat to the conference's desire to win bowl games and by having 8-4 Minnesota lumped in with the 6-6 mess at the bottom of the conference means the team should probably consider sending the strongest team possible out west, as there will be ranked PAC-12 opponents waiting in both the Holiday and Foster Farms Bowls this year, as they will contain the 3rd and 4th choices out of the conference. Meanwhile, the Music City Bowl will have a pick ranging from 3rd-8th out of the SEC, meaning a possibly weaker opponent (like Kentucky or Georgia) would await the Big Ten's pick in Nashville.
Also, you try and convince me that reigniting the Bourbon Barrel wouldn't be great for the Nashville economy. Sure, IU and UK fans are gonna get cataclysmically hammered and then start wrasslin' in the streets, but they'll do it on locally-sourced alcohol. Let's do this thing.