Dec. 04, 2016
Does the Big Ten Champion have shot at College Football Playoff berth?
The No. 7 Penn State Nittany Lions are one win away from something special. Meanwhile, the No. 6 Wisconsin Badgers are on the verge of something special as well. When the season kicked off, nobody picked this match up for the Big Ten Championship game. In fact, the powers don't really want this game. That's one of the reasons why the Badgers and Nittany Lions have been stuck in their current positions.
With one game left, both teams are searching for their first appearance in the College Football Playoff. However, the winner of the Big Ten may be left out of the championship race entirely. It could become a sad reality. However, it's a reality that's been expected ever since the College Football Playoff selection committee was introduced in 2014. Under these current rules, the Badgers or Nittany Lions might be relegated to a Rose Bowl appearance. Meaning, the Big Ten champion won't represent the conference in the Final Four. Yet, the conference still may get two spots in the College Football Playoff. We've seen a conference champion left out of the Final Four previously. However, Sunday's selection show may get obscene.[Badgers' Running Game Must Be Title Worthy]
Two years ago, the Baylor Bears and TCU Horned Frogs were left out of the Final Four from the Big 12. Certainly, name-recognition had a lot to do with it. Unfortunately, the selection committee won't ever admit it. The Bears and Horned Frogs were better than Ohio State all season. More importantly, the Horned Frogs were better than Baylor despite losing the head to head match up. Therefore, the selection committee kept TCU in the Top 4 throughout the stretch run. Yet, when the Buckeyes introduced an old-fashioned beat down to the Wisconsin Badgers, the committee vaulted the Big Ten champion into the College Football Playoff.
It was a no-brainer for the selection committee. How could they keep the Buckeyes (12-1) out of the postseason after winning a game by 59 points? Furthermore, they were champions of the Big Ten. The Buckeyes had everything going for them.
Now we fast forward to 2016 and conference championships aren't supposed to mean anything. It's outlandish. But I understand. The Buckeyes are still the Buckeyes. They still have one loss. However, due to a tie-breaking loss to Penn State, the Nittany Lions earned the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten East. Despite all of that, Ohio State seems like a lock for the College Football Playoff. Why? First of all, they aren't TCU. They aren't Baylor. They aren't Stanford. And they certainly aren't the lucky Penn State Nittany Lions.
Currently, the Nittany Lions' eight game winning streak is the longest in the Big Ten. Meanwhile, the Badgers come into the game with six consecutive wins. Combined, the teams are (1-3) against Ohio State and Michigan. As a result, the winner of the game might not get the benefit of the doubt.
Maybe Saquon Barkley needs to run for 200 yards. Too bad Wisconsin holds opponents to 100 yards rushing per game. If the Nittany Lions have to crush the Badgers to get in the College Football Playoff, their chances are slim. Both of the Badgers' losses came by seven points apiece. We should note, the Nittany Lions scored at least 39 points in their last five games. However, the Badgers gave up 30 points during an overtime loss to the Buckeyes. Otherwise, opponents didn't score more than 20 points the rest of the season.
The only question, will the Big Ten Champion score a big enough victory to earn a spot in the College Football Playoff?[Husker Mania :: Big Ten Championship: Five Badgers to Watch]