Hello, college football/Big Ten fans!
We had several big games yesterday and it helped clear up the Playoff picture quite a bit. Let's see where we stand with just two regular season weeks and conference championship games to go.
The #3 Michigan Wolverines came to University Park, PA and beat the Penn State Nittany Lions to remain undefeated. We no longer have to worry about the "West tiebreaker" or three team tiebreakers. Win or lose on Saturday, "the Game" in Ann Arbor on November 25 between the #1 Ohio State Buckeyes and Michigan will determine who wins the Big Ten East and will be the heavy favorite to win the Big Ten Championship Game in Indianapolis the following Saturday. Since the Big Ten Championship Game has gone to an East-West format, the West Division has NEVEER won the Big Ten Championship Game (0-9) and it's not just Ohio State. One year, even MICHIGAN STATE won the Big Ten Championship!
Both Ohio State and Michigan however don't want to lose next week (Ohio State at home vs. Minnesota, Michigan at Maryland) as there are still five undefeated teams and while a loss might not end their Big Ten title hopes it very well could end their College Football Playoff hopes.I think plenty of other people have commented about Jim Harbaugh. Last time I checked, they were 4-0 this season without him.
Over in the Big Ten Worst, I mean West (hey, only a couple more weeks until I can't make that joke anymore), the #22 Iowa Hawkeyes have a two game lead and can clinch the West with one win with two chances to put it away. Everyone else in the West other than Purdue is 3-4 in the division. Nebraska and Wisconsin play each other Saturday so one of them will be eliminated.
If Minnesota wins out and Iowa loses out, Minnesota will eliminate Wisconsin, have a tiebreaker over Iowa and a tiebreaker over Nebraska. They however lost to both Illinois and Northwestern so if either of them tie with Iowa and/or Nebraska the head to head advantage goes away. Both schools play the last week of the season so one of them will definitely lose. Illinois would have to beat Iowa for Minnesota to have a chance. Of course for Minnesota to even have a chance at the Big Ten West they would have to not only beat Ohio State but in Columbus. Good luck with that.
Nebraska would be in good shape if they win out and Iowa loses out, the only Big Ten West team they' lost to is Minnesota and unless they beat Ohio State a 5-4 Nebraska would win a tiebreaker with 5-4 Iowa and any other team(s).
Should Iowa lose out, Minnesota loses to Ohio State, and Nebraska loses to Wisconsin, it would potentially be Iowa, Wisconsin (they'd have to win at Minnesota), and the Illinois-Northwestern winner (Illinois would beat Iowa, Northwestern would have to beat Purdue).
Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois - Three way head to head. Wisconsin would have just two division losses (Iowa, Northwestern) while Iowa (Minnesota, Illinois, Nebraska) and Illinois (Purdue, Nebraska, Wisconsin) would have three so Wisconsin would win the division.
Iowa, Wisconsin, Northwestern - Iowa beat Wisconsin and Northwestern
Otherwise, Iowa would beat Northwestern head to head and lose to Illinois head to head.
Assuming Minnesota loses to Ohio State:
Iowa: One win.
Nebraska: Two wins, two Iowa losses.
Wisconsin: Two wins, two Iowa losses, Illinois beats Northwestern.
Illinois: Two wins, two Iowa losses, Wisconsin beats Nebraska but loses to Minnesota. (So you're saying there's a chance???)
I believe the only chance Northwestern can win is if Minnesota beats Ohio State.
- If Iowa wins this Saturday, it's over.
- If Iowa loses, Nebraska wins, and Minnesota loses, it will be down to Iowa and Nebraska and the winner wins the West.
- If Iowa loses, Wisconsin wins, and Minnesota loses, the final week scenario would be...
- Iowa wins if they win or Illinois loses.
- Wisconsin wins if they win, Iowa and Northwestern lose.
- Illinois wins if they win and Iowa and Wisconsin lose.
And I'm 100% of two things: 1) I made a mistake and 2) the East will win the Big Ten title so none of this will matter.
Big Ten Championship Prediction: Michigan over Iowa
Your SEC Championship Game is now official, the #2 Georgia Bulldogs and the #8 Alabama Crimson Tide. Georgia travels to Tennessee but they lost 36-7 to Missouri and lost to a bad Florida team that lost at home to Arkansas this year. I feel the SEC is overrated. Take away Georgia and Alabama from the SEC and what do you have left? You know the SEC is down when Missouri and Mississippi are the next best teams. Florida is terrible. Auburn is mediocre, and Texas A&M just fired their head coach. And tough SEC schedules? Georgia and Alabama play in different divisions and have played once in the regular season since 2015 and that was during the pandemic season when the SEC played a 10 game conference schedule. Meanwhile Ohio State and Michigan always play each other and in the history of the East Division have always played Penn State.
Alabama will have to win out and beat Georgia to make the Playoff and will have to convince the Playoff Committee to ignore the head to head loss to Texas earlier this year (in Tuscaloosa no less) if both teams finish 12-1 and conference champions. Then again, last year they were ranked ahead of a Tennessee team that beat them in the final CFP rankings.
SEC Championship Prediction: Georgia over Alabama
The #4 Florida State Seminoles had a close win over Miami but survived and finished ACC play perfect. They finish with an FCS cupcake (North Alabama) and then travel to Gainesville to play Florida (I debate which game will be tougher). Louisville needs to win at Miami to clinch the other spot in the ACC Championship in Charlotte. Also in the ACC running should Louisville lose is NC State, North Carolina, and Virginia Tech. NC State plays both of them and would eliminate both if they win out but Louisville would win a two way tie since they beat them head to head. One loss eliminates NC State. If Louisville and Virginia Tech are the only teams involved in a tie, Louisville also wins the head to head. North Carolina would negate the head to head.
In a Louisville, North Carolina, and possibly Virginia Tech head to head...
Louisville's losses: Pittsburgh, Miami
North Carolina's losses: Virginia, Georgia Tech
Virginia Tech's losses: Florida State, Louisville
In a common opponent tiebreaker between all three, Pittsburgh and Virginia are common to all three. Virginia Tech did not lose to either so they would win. If only Louisville and North Carolina tie, North Carolina beat both Pittsburgh and Miami and Louisville beat both Virginia and Georgia Tech so that would go to the next tiebreaker.
In Florida State's case, the only thing that really matters is win out or no Playoff. Louisville could win out and finish 12-1 but a loss to 2-8 Pittsburgh likely keeps them out, I can't remember a Playoff team losing to a team that bad.
ACC Championship Prediction: Florida State over Louisville
The #5 Washington Huskies and #6 Oregon Ducks continue to win and eliminated both Utah, the two time defending Pac 12 champions, and future Big Ten team (along with Washington, Oregon, and UCLA) USC. Only Oregon State and Arizona are still alive for the Pac 12 championship. Oregon State, if they win out, would hand Oregon a second Pac 12 loss and have a head to head win over them but Arizona can still out forcing a three way (four if Washington loses to Washington State) tie. Arizona would need Oregon to lose a game and/or Washington to lose both games to make it to Las Vegas and Arizona lost earlier this year to Washington so they can't afford to be in a head to head tiebreaker with them although a three way tie likely negates that.
Unless Oregon State is better than we think they are, we should expect our future Big Ten conference mates Washington and Oregon in Las Vegas. Washington won the first game but it was close and in Seattle. Oregon's margin of victory has been larger (463 to 171 for UO, 410 to 235 for UW). Last Tuesday. ESPN's Greg McElroy (who is an Alabama alum) had an issue with Oregon being ranked ahead of Texas and Alabama right now. I would agree with him but throw in a win over Washington and the resumes change.
Pac 12 Championship Prediction: Oregon over Washington
The biggest upsets happened this week happened in the Big 12. #16 Kansas lost at home to Texas Tech and #15 Oklahoma State lost 45-3 to UCF. Oklahoma State is ranked #24 in the AP and unranked in the Coaches poll, Kansas isn't ranked in either poll. These losses hurtt the #7 Texas Longhorns' resume. If either team is ranked in Tuesday's CFP Rankings, they will likely be low. The only other Big 12 teams expected to be in the Top 20 are Oklahoma (who Texas lost to) and maybe Kansas State but KSU has three losses. Should Texas win out, they will have the win over Alabama but if the Big 12 continues to cannibalize themselves, Texas's resume will be hurt. If Texas only has the Alabama win on their resume, that can hurt their case vs. other one loss teams, even vs. Alabama, who will have a win over a likely undefeated Georgia on their resume.
Oklahoma State, despite being humiliated, just needs to win out and, ironically, have Texas win out. Texas plays Iowa State, the only other Big 12 team that beat Ok State. Oklahoma State beat Oklahoma and Kansas State so they would beat either or both in a tiebreak. Any tiebreak involving Texas wipes out Ok State's head to head tiebreaker advantage. Oklahoma State has Houston and BYU left but no one thought Oklahoma State would lose to UCF either. Texas probably could use playing Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship game in Arlington to help their resume even though the Sooners beat them earlier this year.
Big 12 Championship Prediction: Texas over Oklahoma State
I'll stick to my predictions from last week.
Rose Bowl: #1 Michigan (13-0) vs. #4 Oregon (12-1), Jan. 1, 5pm
Sugar Bowl: #2 Georgia (13-0) vs. #3 Florida State (13-0), Jan. 1, 8:30pm
New Year's Six:
5. Texas (12-1) - Big 12 Champions, lost to Oklahoma
6. Ohio State (11-1) - Lost to #1 Michigan
7. Washington (12-1) - Lost to #4 Oregon
8. Alabama (11-2) - Lost to #2 Georgia, #5 Texas
9. Penn State (10-2) - Lost to #1 Michigan, #6 Ohio State
10. Mississippi (10-2) - Lost to #2 Georgia, #8 Alabama
I think Mississippi will beat out Missouri. Ole Miss beat LSU who beat Missouri. The initial rankings might have Missouri ahead but in the end it should even out. Penn State vs. Mississippi should be interesting. Mississippi's best wins would be over LSU and Tulane, Penn State's over Iowa. The Group of Five is owed one slot and the ACC will get one Orange Bowl slot.
New Year's Six:
Cotton Bowl: Fri. Dec. 29, 8pm: Texas (12-1) vs. Mississippi (10-2)
Peach Bowl: Sat. Dec. 30, noon: Penn State (10-2) vs. Tulane (12-1)
Orange Bowl: Sat. Dec. 30, 4pm: Ohio State (11-1) vs. Louisville (11-2)
Fiesta Bowl: Mon. Jan. 1, 1pm: Washington (12-1) vs. Alabama (11-2)
Best Case and Worst Case Scenarios for Each Power Conference:
Best Case: Undefeated Michigan or Ohio State wins the Big Ten Championship. Considering Ohio State almost beat Georgia and Michigan lost to TCU, it's probably better for us if Ohio State wins. Consideing the Big Ten's luck with the SEC, why not a scenario where the SEC gets shut out (Alabama beats Georgia and Texas wins the Big 12)?
Worst Case: Somehow Michigan and Ohio State both lose a game. If Penn State couldn't beat Michigan without Harbaugh and they beat Iowa 31-0 and scored 51 points on Maryland, who hosts Michigan next week, good luck with that happening.
Best Case: Florida State wins out.
Worst Case: They don't. Louisville would need total chaos to make the Playoff.
Best Case: Washington runs the tables. A Rose Bowl date with Michigan would be both nostalgic, a great geographical matchup, and if Michigan couldn't beat TCU last year, Washington would have to love their chances. I'd have to believe Oregon would still have a strong chance to make the Playoff if they beat Washington.
Worst Case: Oregon State upsetting Washington and/or Oregon. Other than that, Oregon beating Washington and Alabama beating Georgia and a Texas win. Oregon would have a win over a 12-1 Washington but Alabama would have a win over a 12-1 Georgia and Texas a win over a 12-1 Alabama. There would always be pressure to put an SEC Champion Alabama in the Playoff and Texas beat Alabama so could Oregon be the one left out? It's way better for the Pac 12 if Oregon wins for Georgia to win. There's only one spot available but only 12-1 Oregon vs. 12-1 Texas and Texas's win is now over a two loss non champion Alabama.
Best Case: Georgia wins out. There's a slim and none chance that both Georgia and Alabama make the Playoff so you'd rather the undefeated team represent the conference and not the one that lost at home to Texas (and didn't look good vs. South Florida either). Texas losing a game would help, then Alabama would make the Playoff.
Worst Case: Alabama wins the SEC Championship, Texas wins the Big 12 (without losing before hand), Washington wins the Pac 12. I wouldn't be surprised if the Committee leaves Alabama out but it's too easy for them to do so and the SEC might not want to bite the hand of their future member either. I'm not sure Oregon beating Washington helps Alabama either, Oregon's resume is still very good too.
Best Case: Texas wins out, Alabama wins the SEC. An Oregon Pac 12 Championship gives Texas another one loss team for them to jump. Can't guarantee they will get in but they'd at least have a case.
Worst Case: Texas loses a game or all four of the other power conference champions are undefeated.