Big Five: The stage is set

Maryland_Wisconsin_Football_73059-3c798Photo: Washington Post

Welcome to the Big Five! This is my weekly column discussing and take-ing on the top five headlines, news items, storylines, etc. of the week. Feel free to comment on my thoughts either below, on Twitter, on Facebook, or…shoot us an email – internsbigten@gmail.com – We’ll make sure to bring your comments up in the next podcast.

1. The Big Ten Championship is set

On Saturday, Dec. 2, Ohio State and Wisconsin will face off in Indianapolis. The Big Ten has been weird and wild in 2017, but its championship game looks just like what we expected it to prior to the season. The winner of the game will have a decent chance at the College Football Playoff, but it’s no guarantee as of now.

For Wisconsin, it’s nearly a win-and-you’re-in situation. Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez said, “There’s no part of me that says if you go undefeated as a Power 5 and win your conference championship and you’re not going to be in the final four.” I’d generally agree, but maybe schedule a challenging game next season?

If the Badgers win, I think they’re in. Ohio State, that’s a different story. The Buckeyes could become the first two-loss team to ever make the CFP. It will depend on how they play against Michigan this week.

The Buckeyes would likely need Miami to win the ACC and Alabama to win the SEC, because that leaves Georgia and Clemson championship-less with two losses. If Ohio State wins the Big Ten Championship in that situation, it would likely receive a spot. It would be much easier if…

2. …Ohio State didn’t lose to Iowa

The result of the Ohio State vs. Iowa game puzzles me more and more each week. A win is one thing, a blowout is another. And this past week, Iowa took a home loss to Purdue. That’s a brutal defeat, and waters down the Kinnick advantage argument.

Iowa, which was at one point ranked and pushing toward second in the Big Ten West, has put together back-to-back miserable performances. The Hawkeyes are going bowling, yes, but if they lose to Nebraska next week, it’d be reasonable to just ban them from bowl contention this year.

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Photo: USA Today

3. Northwestern is one of the hottest teams in college football

I’m on Thanksgiving break at school right now, so I thought I’d pay a visit to Ryan Field Saturday and catch up with Northwestern. The decision didn’t underwhelm. A fired-up Fitz and a solid display of press-box food helped cover-up an incredibly noncompetitive game in front of Northwestern’s sparsest crowd all season.

But, the Wildcats looked really, really good. I know Minnesota is bad, but the ‘Cats shut out the Gophers and held them to under 200 yards. Keep in mind, Minnesota put up 54 points the week before. The performance was a certain level of dominant I’ve never seen before from Northwestern football, especially against a team which has a chance to go bowling.

Bowl perspectives look good for Northwestern. The Wildcats better go 9-3. And it’s not a Big Ten Championship game, but with a bowl win, the Wildcats would cement their third 10-win season in the past six years.

4. We want, and need, Brandon Peters Michigan

Michigan quarterback Brandon Peters isn’t great, but he’s much better than John O’Korn. The Wolverines were in their game against Wisconsin until Peters left with an injury. Then, O’Korn came in and threw for a whopping 19 yards on 2-for-8 passing.

The Wolverines actually stood in with the Badgers for most of the game. But an offense without Peters is an offense which folds at the mere sight of run-based defensive schemes. We need Brandon Peters to switch things up, and if he doesn’t play against Ohio State, it won’t be pretty for Michigan.

5. Indiana vs. Purdue kinda matters

At this point, neither team is good. But because the standards for making a bowl are lower than those for a Michigan quarterback, both Indiana and Purdue could go bowling.

I almost feel guilty watching one of these two teams play in a bowl. They have combined for five conference wins, two against Illinois and one against Rutgers, Minnesota and Iowa. Each team’s passing leader has 12 touchdowns, with six and seven picks respectively. But…one of these teams will go bowling. With each team 5-6, Purdue vs. Indiana matters.

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