Another week has come and gone in college football and another third ranked school fell to defeat just one game into their tenure as a playoff team. This week it was the Michigan State Spartans, who lost at Purdue in a game that will likely take them out of postseason consideration. The Spartans’ loss did have me asking a question: Is the Big Ten Conference so good that no one can establish supremacy, or are they just a group of average and evenly matched teams knocking each other off and using their reputations to earn higher national rankings?
Losing to the Purdue Boilermakers is not a fate unique to the Michigan State Spartans. Just last month the Iowa Hawkeyes lost at home to Purdue when they were ranked third in the country (keeping with the 2021 season’s theme of seeing third ranked teams fall to defeat.) What makes the Spartans’ loss even more interesting is the timing of it since Oregon, Ohio State, Cincinnati and Michigan all won their games on Saturday with only the seventh ranked Wolverines winning by more than ten points. This means that if the committee wants to drop Michigan State down, it can; but they may not want to since only sixth ranked Cincinnati is undefeated among these five teams, and the committee has already said what the Bearcats have done so far this year is not enough to warrant a playoff spot.
Which begs the question, what has anyone in the Big Ten conference done?
The Ohio State Buckeyes are the only undefeated team within the Big Ten conference, yet they sport a home loss to Oregon from early September. Which is why the Oregon Ducks are currently ranked ahead of Ohio State. With the Buckeyes facing their own game against Purdue next week followed by a home game against Michigan State and at Michigan, they are the only team who had a clear path to the college football playoffs from the Big Ten, since I doubt anyone will vote to keep them out of the postseason if they go on and win the conference title.
From my standpoint, however, Ohio State is just an above average team in a conference of evenly matched teams that have spent the 2021 season knocking each other off or playing close games. For some voters, this means the conference is deep, for people like me, it means the conference is average without a true elite team.
For years the Pac-12 was punished by voters because each of their teams played the other 11 schools in their conference. What would almost always happen is the best schools would pick each other off, and the season would end without an undefeated team in the conference, leaving the conference on the outside of the playoffs. The same thing is about to unfold in the Big Ten since I don’t think Ohio State will be able to run the gauntlet of Purdue, Michigan State and Michigan without suffering a loss. Thus, leaving the conference with a one-loss winner and opening the door for Cincinnati to rise into the ranks of the top four in the country, putting them into the postseason.
Right now, it looks like we live in a world that belongs to the Georgia Bulldogs, who after their 10-3 win at Clemson, during Labor Day weekend, have dominated college football, playing only one game decided by less than twenty points. I know one thing is clear to me, if anyone from the Big Ten is matched up against Georgia, I am laying the points and taking the top ranked team to win, cover and reach the over. Because when I look at Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan, all I see are teams that are entertaining when they face each other, but have average talent.
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Is The Big Ten Conference Getting Exposed?| TooAthletic.com