Around the Big Ten: Week 10
Matt Freiler, Tyler Olson, Joe Skinner and Jacob Ross preview this weekend's action on the gridiron across the Big Ten.
Last week, Big Ten fans witnessed the game of the year in college football as No. 6 Ohio State came back from a 15-point deficit to knock off No. 2 Penn State, 39-38.
The result came at the perfect time, just a few days before the College Football Playoff Committee would release their first Top 25. While many expected the Buckeyes to debut in the Top 4 after their big win, that didn’t happen.
Ohio State debuted at No. 6, ahead of Penn State at No. 7. Most surprisingly, unbeaten Wisconsin was slotted at No. 9. The Badgers are currently No. 4 in the AP Poll, marking the biggest difference in the current AP and CFP polls.
Wisconsin won’t have many resume-building opportunities the rest of the way. The Badgers travel to Bloomington on Saturday to face an Indiana team which is 0-5 in the Big Ten. Home games against Iowa and Michigan will follow before the Badgers close the season with a road game at Minnesota.
However, the solution is quite simple for Paul Chryst’s club. They control their own destiny. If the Badgers run the table and win a Big Ten Championship, they will be in the College Football Playoff.
For teams like Penn State, simply winning out might not be enough. The Nittany Lions visit No. 24 Michigan State on Saturday, where they’ll need a convincing win. No. 3 Notre Dame is the current “king of the one-losses” according to the committee, and the Irish beat the Spartans by twenty in East Lansing earlier this season.
While there is no matchup that stands out as “game of the week” in the B1G, No. 6 Ohio State visiting Iowa has potential to be interesting. The Hawkeyes are 4-1 at home this season, with the lone loss coming on the final play against Penn State.
J.T. Barrett inserted himself back into the Heisman conversation when he completed his final 16 passes in the comeback against Penn State. The fourth-year starter finished with 328 yards passing and four touchdowns, and also gained 95 yards on the ground.
The Iowa defense is led by All-American linebacker Josey Jewell, and will be tasked with slowing down a Buckeye offense that has averaged over 50 points per game in their last six contests.
There are several games on the undercard this week in the B1G, including Northwestern at Nebraska. The Wildcats knocked off Michigan State in triple overtime last week, and will carry the momentum of three straight wins into Lincoln. The Huskers had some magic of their own, defeating Purdue in the final seconds. If Nebraska wants to help their bowl chances, this is a must-win.
The Battle for the Little Brown Jug will happen on Saturday, as Minnesota visits Michigan. Jim Harbuagh gave Brandon Peters the starting nod against Rutgers, and the sophomore held his own in a 35-14 win. Only three of Minnesota’s eight games have been on the road this season, and they will face a tough environment in the Big House.
Rounding out conference action is Maryland at Rutgers and Illinois at Purdue. Looking at the toughness of the remaining schedules, none of these four teams is likely to make a bowl. Most disappointing of all might be the Boilermakers, who have lost three straight after showing some life in September.
Matt Freiler is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.