Tuesday, November 8, 2016
Bilo's College Football PASS/FAIL Conference Title Chase Reports: Big 10
East: Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State
Michigan is currently a clear final four team as they are 9-0 overall and 6-0 in Big 12 play. They vaulted to the top of our PRS rankings this week by virtue of another dominating performance in a 59-3 win over Maryland. With a win over Penn State already in the books, and a rout it was at that, the only thing left to do is beat Ohio State, and the East is won. Of course, there are a couple of other small considerations left over in games against Iowa and Indiana, with Iowa coming on the road, but Michigan should be clear favorites in those games before the final showdown against the Buckeyes in Columbus.
Ohio State ended a bad two week stint last weekend with a resounding 62-3 win over Nebraska. The Buckeyes have a lone loss this season, and that was to Penn State, and so if the Buckeyes finish in a tie with them, that would be a bad thing. Ohio State has to beat Michigan, and they need Penn State to lose one more game. The Buckeyes should be clear favorites the next two weeks against Maryland and Michigan State, even with both games coming on the road.
Penn State is still hanging in there. They still, surprisingly only trail Michigan by one game. They have beaten Ohio State. If Penn State wins out, Ohio State wins out and beats Michigan, that could actually vault Penn State into the Big 10 title game, but only if Michigan loses twice will that be a clear path. Penn State should roll in games against Indiana, Rutgers, and Michigan State to finish the season, so winning out should not be an issue.
West: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Iowa, Northwestern
I have talked the last couple of weeks about there being a dark horse in the West, and that was Minnesota. The Gophers have sat back quietly awaiting for a scenario to fall into their laps, and this has arrived. If the Gophers win out, they play for their first Big 10 title since expansion. This is going to be a tough road. Minnesota has the following left to play: at Nebraska, Northwestern, and at Wisconsin. Win them all, and there is no doubt, but that is a tall order.
Wisconsin has beaten Nebraska already, but once again, they do not play Minnesota until the finale, and that is a huge looming game, unless Minnesota loses between now and then, which is possible. The Badgers also have a very clear path to that Minnesota game, with only Illinois and Purdue in the way. Wisconsin should roll through both of those games, and then will prep for the Gophers to go back to the Big 10 title game. Of all remaining teams in contention, Wisconsin has the clearest path to that title event, but remember, they had already lost to Michigan this season.
Nebraska has imploded as of late, with back to back losses to Wisconsin and Ohio State. That has cost the Huskers a clear path to winning the West. Nebraska gets to narrow the field somewhat against Minnesota this coming week, but then has challenging games against Maryland and Iowa which could both be tricky.
Iowa and Northwestern, as strange as it sounds, both have a twisted path remaining, as both linger just one game behind the leaders. Iowa has lost to Northwestern and Wisconsin, but they already own a win over Minnesota, and still have Nebraska on the schedule. If they beat Nebraska, and get help from the Badgers and Gophers, Iowa has a path.
Northwestern has already beaten Iowa, but lost to Nebraska and Wisconsin. The Wildcats would need a pair of losses by each to move on, and must win out against Purdue, Minnesota, and Illinois. It is a twisted path, but one exists.
Bowl Eligible: Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Wisconsin
Bowl Ineligible: Michigan State, Rutgers