Big Five: “The Game” sets the stage

Michigan Football Spring Game

Photo: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

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 – – We’ll make sure to bring your comments up in the next podcast.

1. We’ve gotta talk about “The Game.”

There’s a lot here. Ohio State beat Michigan for the 12th time in the last 13 years. That’s pretty incredible. Ohio State was definitely the better team this year, but I want to focus on the quarterbacks in the game.

First of all, we’ve been hard on Michigan quarterback John O’Korn. He hasn’t played well for Michigan, and his teary postgame press conference shows he feels bad about that. It’s tough, but the Wolverines simply haven’t won big games with O’Korn. We saw Michigan compete with Wisconsin until quarterback Brandon Peters went down and O’Korn entered. The Wolverines were able to play with Ohio State under O’Korn, but a slew of missed passes and a pair of turnovers buried Michigan. After watching his press conference, it’s hard not to root for O’Korn, but he simply hasn’t been able to get the job done in Ann Arbor.

Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett can’t be credited for the Buckeyes’ victory, however. The game was in gridlock until Barrett got hurt in the third quarter. Then, the Buckeyes dominated the following quarter behind backup play-caller Dwayne Haskins, who threw for 94 yards on 6-for-7 passing. In short, Michael’s quarterback beliefs were reassured in “The Game.”

2. So…does Ohio State have a chance at the College Football Playoff?

Yes, a very very slim chance. Alabama’s loss to Auburn didn’t help the Buckeyes whatsoever. Ohio State would have to defeat Wisconsin next week in the Big Ten Championship. If it does, the Buckeyes’ fate will lie in the committee’s hands. It’s going to depend on how much the committee values a conference championship. Would an 11-2 Ohio State team with a Big Ten Championship earn a spot over an 11-1 Alabama?

Basically, Ohio State has to hope for as much chaos as possible, even though not much is possible heading into championship weekend. An SEC team will make it. And if Georgia wins, two SEC teams could find themselves in. If TCU beats Oklahoma, that makes Ohio State’s case interesting as well. Could the Buckeyes potentially leap the Sooners despite a head-to-head loss?

And now we reach the ACC, where the winner of the championship will go to the playoff. Ohio State will be rooting for a blowout, one way or the other. They didn’t put themselves in a great position, but the Buckeyes still have a chance.


Photo: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

3. A more likely chance? Wisconsin.

The Badgers rolled their way to another victory this past weekend, a 31-0 blowout against Minnesota. Nothing too flashy, just a typical Wisconsin win, like their previous 11. Now, Wisconsin has the game its been waiting for: the Big Ten Championship against Ohio State.

This will be interesting, because we haven’t seen the Badgers take on a top-25 opponent with a competent offense. Will Wisconsin’s injuries finally catch up to them? On Saturday, we’ll be able to answer if the Badgers are real or not. Then, it’s playoff time. Win, and you’re probably in. Lose, don’t even think about it.

4. At least Mike Riley didn’t get the Bielema treatment

Nebraska inevitably fired its head coach Mike Riley after a very fitting blowout loss to Iowa at home. The Huskers finished the season 4-8 and their wins came against Arkansas State, Rutgers, Illinois and Purdue. Woof. But Riley wasn’t informed of his firing as he strolled off the field, so that’s good.

The standards have been set very high in Lincoln, whether reasonable or not. The program has great facilities but an unfortunate location for recruiting. Can the Huskers reel in UCF coach Scott Frost, potentially the hottest name in college football? They certainly want to, but Frost will have a plethora of options, and a tough turnaround ahead may dampen Nebraska’s chances at its former quarterback.

5. Purdue, welcome to December football

The Boilermakers started and ended their season well. The middle? Yeah, let’s not look at that. It’s like a semester worth of D-’s sandwiched by a pair of 3.5 GPA’s. Purdue managed to lose to Rutgers and Nebraska in back-to-back weeks, but beat Iowa and Missouri on the road. Props to you, Jeff Brohm, that’s tough. Congrats to the Boilers.

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