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B1G Ceilings: How High Can Each Team Go?

There is only one month left in the college football regular season, and most teams are what their records say they are. But there is a big difference between 5-7 and 7-5, and with three-four games to go, programs have a chance to define what the record books will say about them. The following looks at the best-case scenarios for each B1G team.

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Obviously, the best case scenario for every team is that they win out, but let's not kid ourselves, Nebraska isn't winning out. Maryland isn't winning out. Indiana isn't winning out. With that in mind, what are the realistic best-case scenarios for each B1G team?

Eric Francis/Getty Images

Eric Francis/Getty Images

Not Going Bowling But...

Nebraska Cornhuskers

Current Record: 3-6

Remaining Games: Michigan State, @Rutgers, Iowa

What is Their Ceiling?: Nebraska has to win out in order to go bowling, and Nebraska is not going to win out. About the best the Huskers can hope for is to lose respectably to MSU, beat Rutgers, and then surprise an 11-0 Iowa, thereby ruining Iowa's chances at going to the College Football Playoffs (CFP). All would not be lost if Iowa isn't 11-0 when it comes to Lincoln. If the Hawkeyes are 10-1, Nebraska could still beat them, thereby keeping Iowa out of the B1G Championship Game. It's a shame when the best Nebraska can do is ruin somebody else's season, but it's time for Huskers fans to accept the reality that is Nebraska post-Osborne. That, of course, doesn't mean they have to accept the mess that is currently residing in Lincoln.

Maryland Terps

Current Record: 2-6

Remaining Games: Wisconsin, @Michigan State, Indiana, @Rutgers

What is Their Ceiling?: Maryland also has to win out to go bowling, and Maryland is also not going to win out. Unfortunately, there are no true B1G rivalries for the Terps, as well as no dreams to spoil (no, Maryland is not going to rain on MSU's parade). The best-case scenario for Maryland is to win two, and grab a great hire as the new coach. Ultimately, with all that Under Armour money and its location, Maryland, and not Rutgers, is the sleeping giant in the Big Ten. Make the right hire and make it early, and Maryland could be the next Oregon.

Leon Halip/Getty Images

Leon Halip/Getty Images

Fighting For Bowl Eligibility


Current Record: 2-6

Remaining Games: Illinois, @Northwestern, @Iowa, Indiana

What is Their Ceiling?: Long shot? Yes, but every game remaining is theoretically winnable. And what if the win against Nebraska was as much an indication of Purdue's ascension as it was an indication of Nebraska's decline? Furthermore, the players like head coach Darrell Hazell, unlike many of the currently vacant regimes, and they are playing for his job. Lastly, the whole ride would be worth it for all three of Purdue's fans if they not only clinch bowl eligibility by beating Indiana in the final game, but they also shut IU out of bowl eligibility.


Current Record: 3-5

Remaining Games: @Michigan, Nebraska, @Army, Maryland

What is Their Ceiling?: The Scarlet Knights have to win three. Beating Michigan is not going to happen this year, but Army, Nebraska and Maryland have a combined record of 7-18. They have one win over a Power-Five team, and Rutgers faces both Nebraska and Maryland at home. If it doesn't quit like it did against Wisconsin, getting to six wins is a real possibility. Given the mess in Piscataway, almost all of it self-created, that's an accomplishment.


Current Record: 4-4

Remaining Games: Iowa, Michigan, @Maryland, @Purdue

What is Their Ceiling?: Remember when IU was 4-0? Remember when IU gave up a 25-point lead to Rutgers? This is a potent offense—fourth-ranked scoring offense in the conference—backed by an impotent defense—112th in the country. It's got to beat Purdue and Maryland, which is doable, and that is six wins. The Hoosiers are not going to beat both Iowa and Michigan, but both of those games are at home, and neither team is invincible. Indiana could go 7-5 if the defense can just not be embarrassing, but hasn't that been the case all year? Hasn't that been the case for the past decade?


Current Record: 4-4

Remaining Games: @Ohio State, @Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin

What is Their Ceiling?: The Gophers are not winning out. They're not going 3-1. 2-2 is possible. They have to beat Illinois, and upset Iowa or Wisconsin. This makes the best-case scenario even better given the rivalry implications. It's been a tough year for Minnesota and a bowl berth is a possibility and would help a lot.


Current Record: 4-4

Remaining Games: @Purdue, Ohio State, @Minnesota, Northwestern

What is Their Ceiling?: I suspect many Illinois fans would like the Illini to crash and burn, so there can be no possibility of retaining Bill Cubit or any remnant of one more mess of a program. Whatever happens, the Illini are not beating OSU, but 3-1 in the final four is possible, and 2-2 is realistic. If that happens, would Cubit retain the head coaching job? Or would they hire somebody that is a better fit? Hey, Steve Sarkisian and Charlie Weis are available. I mean, they're both good recruiters.

Andy Manis/Associated Press

Andy Manis/Associated Press

Jockeying For Bowl Positioning


Current Record: 7-2

Remaining Games: @Maryland, Northwestern, @Minnesota

What is Their Ceiling?: 10-2 is possible, and given the schedule it's even probable. Along with winning out, the Badgers have to hope for two Iowa losses. In that scenario, Wisconsin would represent the Western Division in the B1G Championship Game. They would most likely lose to OSU or MSU, but perhaps they can avoid getting pasted like last year. In effect, the Citrus Bowl would be their probable destination. Without Iowa losses to accompany three wins, they would most likely get pushed back to the Outback or Holiday Bowl.

Penn State

Current Record: 7-2

Remaining Games: @Northwestern, Michigan, @Michigan State

What is Their Ceiling?: The Nits aren't going to win out, but they can beat two of their final three. Given their horrendous start against Temple, that's not too bad, and it was probably most fans' best-case scenario at the beginning of year, even if the ride wasn't what was expected. 9-3 would probably land Penn State in the Outback Bowl depending on who they beat.


Current Record: 6-2

Remaining Games: Penn State, Purdue, @Wisconsin, Illinois

What is Their Ceiling?: All of the remaining games are winnable, but it's nearly impossible to see NU winning out. On the other hand, 3-1 is possible. It doesn't live up to Northwestern fans' hopes when they were 5-0 and headed to Ann Arbor, but most NU fans would be satisfied with a 9-3 season. This would most likely put them in the Outback Bowl or the Holiday Bowl.


Current Record: 6-2

Remaining Games: Rutgers, @Indiana, @Penn State, Ohio State

What is Their Ceiling?: 10-2 and back into the championship game. The Wolverines will have to win out and MSU will have to lose to OSU along with one other team—probably PSU. This is a very long shot, but it is not an impossibility. However, 11-2 Michigan would not get into the CFP, but would most likely get picked up by the Rose Bowl. Furthermore, if Michigan wins out but MSU doesn't lose, the Wolverines would still have a shot at the Rose Bowl, not to mention their first win over Ohio State since 2011.

Jeffery Becker/ USA Today Sports

Jeffery Becker/ USA Today Sports

CFP or Bust

Iowa, Michigan State and Ohio State are all currently 8-0.

Iowa Remaining Games: @Indiana, Minnesota, Purdue, @Nebraska

Michigan State Remaining Games: @Nebraska, Maryland, @Ohio State, Penn State

Ohio State Remaining Games: Minnesota, @Illinois, Michigan State, @Michigan

Only one B1G team will make the CFP, and that team will have to go undefeated. However, if any of these programs do go undefeated they will, despite the protests of various SEC-endorsed pundits, go to the playoffs and rightfully so. The other two would then have an opportunity at an access bowl.