B1G Mistake: Why Two Big Ten Teams Don’t Belong In College Football Playoff


If the College Football Playoff started tomorrow, there’d be two Big Ten teams in the four-team bracket.

This is a startling hypothetical situation considering the conference as a whole has been steadily mediocre for over a decade.

There’s no hiding the Big Ten’s out-of-conference struggles in recent years, especially when pitted against another power five conference opponent. But with an Ohio State National Championship and overachieving Bowl season in 2015 — poof– the Big Ten’s woes are all but forgotten.

The Big Ten propaganda reached its height this past Saturday when #5 Michigan State defeated the #7 Oregon Ducks, Vernon Adams, and all nine of his fully functioning digits.

Michigan State and Ohio State are believed to have one more actual game this season. It takes place on November 21st when the two sides face one another for the Legends Leaders East Division crown.

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Of course, this assumes that both teams will enter the highly anticipated matchup without a stain on their record. After catching a glimpse of Ohio State in their season opener at Blacksburg, it won’t be the Buckeyes. Ohio State will saunter toward their second straight college football playoff berth with relative ease. The Buckeyes are more talented than anyone they will face in the Big Ten by a landslide. They have arguably the best coach in college football. They are as safe of a bet as you will find in sports at the moment.

For Michigan State, Saturday night was not the statement the Spartans had hoped to make after the 19-point licking they received the prior year in Eugene. Third-year starter Connor Cook was supposed to shred the Ducks’ youthful secondary. Tom Brady comparisons flooded the media leading up to the game. Cook’s performance was more Brian Hoyer than Tom Brady. The Ducks had several other obvious deficiencies on defense that the Spartans for the most part, couldn’t exploit. Aside from a few big runs, the Ducks’ defense managed to keep the Michigan State running game in tact. And as I mentioned above, despite an inability to get to Connor Cook, Cook still couldn’t make the Oregon Ducks pay for it with his arm.

In what seemed like an ill-fitting ending, the game came down to one final Ducks’ drive. Despite a newly acquired (and injured) quarterback, a piss poor performance on the road in as hostile of an environment that you’ll find in college sports, the Ducks were less than 50 yards from escaping East Lansing with a seemingly improbable win. In the end, it was the Spartans defense that saved the day for the Green and White.

Michigan State escaped with a win in a game that should have never been close. Unlike the Buckeyes, the Spartans appear far less immortal when looking at their upcoming schedule. Trips to Ann Arbor and Lincoln could prove to be more daunting than they appear on paper.

But let’s get back to the narrative, which is that Michigan State and Ohio State will, in fact, combine for a total of one loss at the season’s end. And therefore, both undoubtedly earn a spot in the College Football Playoff bracket.

At first glance, this seems right and fair. Ohio State is without a doubt the best team in the country. Michigan State has a win over the #7 team in the nation (at the time) on its résumé, and a loss to the Buckeyes as its only fault. (Remember, I’m still projecting.)

This all sounds fine and dandy for the Spartans and Buckeyes, and even more so for their conference. But it should also never happen. At least not this year.

With strength of schedule taken into consideration, even one Big Ten in the playoff seems like one too many.

To put it all into perspective, Alabama will play roughly seven ranked opponents this season. Ohio State is currently set only to play against one. Michigan State will have likely played against two.

Should the Big Ten be rewarded for its ineptitude?

As of now, there would be two Big Ten teams in the College Football Playoff. But as we all know, the balance of power in college football shifts week to week. On paper, certain teams appear so formidable, that some games seem so inane and beneath them.

However, if there’s one thing we’ve learned from college football, it’s that regardless of your program’s illustrious history, your Heisman candidate, or imposing home crowd, any given Saturday, any team can be overthrown.

Next: Breaking Down The Pac-12: Quarterbacks