Only two games cancelled this past weekend let us focus all our attention to an Ohio State with 50% of its roster totally and completely dismantle a Michigan State team that beat the Big Ten west leader just one week ago.
While parody has been a big part of 2020, parity is looking to have itself a year, too.
The optics of the situation are as such: many believe Michigan has every reason in the world to cancel its game against Ohio State, allegedly rendering the Buckeyes ineligible for the Big Ten Championship, and in turn the College Football Playoff.
I’m of the belief the only way Jim Harbaugh can keep his job is by beating State this year, so he has every reason to want to play, but that’s just me.
ANYWAY, the above scenario doesn’t consider that 1. the Big Ten is going to do everything in its power to get Ohio State in the playoff, and 2. the College Football Playoff committee is going to do everything in its power to keep Coastal Carolina out of the playoff. Also consider the College Football Playoff is run by a guy who thinks he runs the Big Ten, let alone his own university.
All this is to say, the only way we’re not seeing Ohio State in the postseason this year is if it loses a game in December.
Now, if Northwestern were to lose to Illinois this week, and if Iowa were to beat Wisconsin, and OSU-Michigan is played, wouldn’t everyone benefit from a team with a higher winning percentage than Northwestern playing Ohio State in Indianapolis?
But I digress.
1. Ohio State (5-0)
Online, someone postulated how many players would need to be down for Ohio State to lose a game. The answer, really, is if Justin Fields is one of those players.
Look, do I think Ohio State is one of the four best teams in the country? Yes. Do I also think most of their competition was assembled from a dilapidated cardboard box Kevin Warren found in the basement of Van Allen hall? Also yes.
Surely being 29.5 point favorites over Michigan will do wonders for the Buckeye SoS at a critical point of the season.
2. Indiana (6-1)
A spotless record aside from providing Ohio State its only real competition on the year, Indiana just beat Wisconsin for the first time since 2002, back when Gerry DiNardo and Barry Alvarez were coaching the teams.
This is a notification that Indiana now has as many wins over the Badgers in the past 10 years as Iowa. A notification and nothing else.
3. Iowa (5-2)
Northwestern was idle last week because PJ Fleck can’t keep things in house, and I simply can’t be compelled to rank Northwestern above Iowa given that fact.
Furthermore, I’d like to spotlight Iowa and give it credit for during the opposite of its Northwestern strategy: instead of amassing an early lead and letting it slip away, Iowa decided to dig itself in a hole and take advantage of a sleeping Illinois opponent to run away with the football game.
Iowa now has more wins in the state of Illinois in December than the Chicago Bears. Which leads me to my next point:
4. Northwestern (5-1)
Have fun replacing the only good coach in program history, nerds!
I’d like to take this time to draw attention to the fact that on the Northwestern football wiki, there is literally a bookmark titled “years of futility” in between the Alex Agase and Gary Barnett eras.
Don’t worry, I’m sure Fitzgerald will find satisfaction in coaching Iowa’s NFL team!
5. Wisconsin (2-2)
Despite losing, Wisconsin gets credit for actually playing Indiana this week, a feat that many other teams wouldn’t even get out of bed for in These Uncertain Times.®
Look, I’m excited Iowa gets the chance to beat Wisconsin for the second time in a decade this weekend. I’m also upset about how a Badger win will render the thought experiment I opened this column with totally and completely moot. Leave it to Wisconsin to make you remember that the act of just thinking doesn’t help pay the bills.
6. The rest
No other conference member has done anything of note this season. Nor will they get the opportunity to do anything to benefit the Big Ten in a postseason bowl. But I am glad it only took Penn State and Nebraska seven weeks to figure out their quarterback situations.
So maybe this pandemic is a good thing. If you had the chance to hide your ugliest children from houseguests, wouldn’t you? Keeping Rutgers, Penn State, Nebraska, et al in the cellar has really been great from an optics standpoint in my opinion. We should probably only let Minnesota play on Friday nights next year, too.
Tune in next week for more conspiracy theories that are too spicy for a Substack!