Big Ten: Weekly Conference Analysis with Odds and Predictions
Oh how the tides have turned. What started out as a two-team race in the Big Ten's East division two weeks ago has now become essentially a four-team race to determine who will get the right to play in the Big Ten Championship game. Both Ohio State and Penn State were sitting pretty heading into their game against one another two weeks ago. Since then, the Nittany Lions have lost twice, while the Buckeyes are no longer undefeated in conference play. The biggest beneficiary of that has been Michigan State, who have played themselves to a 5-1 conference record and a 7-2 record overall. The Spartans have a massive game this week against the aforementioned Buckeyes, and the winner of this game will have the inside track to Houston in late December.
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Over in the West Division, Wisconsin still leads the way with a 6-0 conference record. They are two games up on Northwestern for top spot and look every bit the part of a Big Ten Champion. The only knock on the Badgers is that they have not played anyone worth noting, which is why they could finish undefeated and still be left out of the CFP altogether. After last week's crazy results, the Badgers are the only Big Ten representative left ranked inside the Top 10. The Buckeyes dropped from third to 11th, and the Spartans climbed up the rankings from 24 th to 13th.
Weekly Big Ten Round Up
Without going into too much detail - I'm sure everyone already knows the results from last week - the losses by Ohio State and Penn State shouldn't really come as a major shock to anyone. When two teams lay it all on the line in an instant classic game, there will be let downs the following week and last weekend was a prime example of two teams coming out looking flat and lethargic. It'll be interesting to see how the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions respond this week. Elsewhere around the Big Ten, No. 9 Wisconsin beat Indiana by a 45-17 score, Purdue beat Illinois 29-10, Rutgers topped Maryland 31-14, Northwestern got the better of Nebraska 31-24 and Michigan dominated Minnesota for a 33-10 win.
Big Ten Rundown: Week 11
Week 11 in the Big Ten is a bit of a grab bag. There is one game that stands alone as the game of the week - No. 13 Michigan State at No.11 Ohio State (-14.5 ) - there is a semi-interesting game that could be somewhat entertaining to watch - Iowa at No. 8 Wisconsin (-12.5) -- and then there is the rest of the card, which is just flat out ugly. Rutgers is 30-point underdogs to Penn State, Indiana (-9) travels to Illinois to take on the Hoosiers (snore), Nebraska is at Minnesota (-2.5), Michigan (-15.) is away to Maryland and Northwestern (-6) hosts Purdue.
By my calculations this is the first "bad" week in the Big Ten where nearly the entire card is borderline unwatchable. Luckily the Spartans/Buckeyes game is being nationally televised, so that should take the heat off the rest of the card.
Could an Undefeated Power 5 Team Miss Out on The College Football Playoffs?
This is the predicament the Wisconsin Badgers find themselves in after the second CFP rankings were announced last night. To the surprise of no one, the top five teams remained the same while the teams chasing them did some reshuffling. TCU was the big winner of the weekend, moving up to No. 6 from No. 8 thanks to a convincing win over a feisty Texas team. Right behind them comes an undefeated Miami team, and then we get to the Big Ten's only hope at a playoff spot, No. 8 Wisconsin.
The Badgers have done absolutely nothing wrong so far this season. They are winning games convincingly and own one of the nations top-ranked defensive units. They have three regular-seasons games left before the Big Ten Championship game, and it's very possible that even if they finished with an undefeated record and claim the Big Ten Title that they could still miss out on the postseason. The knock on the Badgers is that they have played absolutely nobody worth mentioning. Their strength of schedule was ranked the lowest among the 25 teams the committee ranked last night according to the chair of the selection committee, Kirby Hocutt.
The Badgers currently own just one win over a ranked opponent thanks to Northwestern entering the Top-25 this week. They have a chance at a second ranked win if they beat Iowa this coming Saturday, but two ranked wins aren't going to be enough to convince the committee their body of work is worthy of a CFP spot.
The Badgers need a mini miracle to happen in order to get themselves into the CFP discussion. Alabama and Georgia are almost guaranteed a spot in the playoffs. Both teams are likely to win out until they meet each other in the SEC title game. Obviously one team will lose, but it won't affect them even the slightest.
The Badgers not only need to win out (duh), but they need teams like Miami, Notre Dame, TCU, Oklahoma and Clemson to lose a game or two. The Hurricanes and Fighting Irish play each other this weekend, so the winner could potentially have the inside track to a top-four spot. The same can be said for the TCU/Oklahoma matchup. The Tigers play nobody worth mentioning to close the year, as they have Florida State, Citadel and South Carolina on deck. Then the questions must be asked - is the defending National Champion worthy of chance to defend their crown with one loss? - your guess is as good as mine.
If everything goes according to script and the top seven or eight teams take care of business, there is going to be two spots left for five or six teams. Obviously the math doesn't add up and unfortunately for Badgers' nation, their SOS just doesn't match up against some of the other Power 5 schools that will be in contention. So to answer the lead question, yes, an undefeated Power 5 team will miss out on the playoffs.
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