Could Two Big Ten Teams Make the CFP?
It's early days yet, but it could well be two of the best teams in college football are in the same conference.
And it's not the SEC.
Defending champion Ohio State and Michigan State have struggled at times, but each finished October 4-0 as they navigate their schedules and look towards their Sat 21 Nov meeting.
It looks like the Buckeyes have finally decided that Cardale Jones is their quarterback. Dude threw for 288 yards in their uneven win over Western Michigan.
Prior to clashing with Sparty, Ohio State tune up -- and up and up -- with appointments against Indiana, Maryland, Penn State, Rutgers, Minnesota, and Illinois. Watch out for the week after, though, because that's when they journey to the Big House. If Jim Harbaugh has indeed performed alchemy with the Wolverines, the Buckeyes will be in for more than what's one of the nation's fiercest rivalries.
He then went out and did it.
And there's absolutely no doubt what inspired his coaching philosophy for offense:
It wasn't billed that way at the time, but Michigan State's early signature victory over Oregon in Week 2 may have been written in pencil.
What with the Ducks being totally destroyed by Utah, 62-20, no one's sure what Sparty really proved yet. They'll no doubt be huge Quack fans the rest of the way, just to boost their own profile.
Connor Cook has only one interception so far this season to go along with nine touchdowns, but his statistics must improve as the season progresses. Case in point: dude threw for only 143 yards in the Spartans' defeat of Central Michigan:
Compared to Ohio State, the Spartans' schedule is only a semi-joke. They face Purdue and Rutgers before a big battle with Michigan and then get Indiana, Nebraska, and Maryland before that showdown with the Buckeyes.
So, who could dull the luster of that game?
- Michigan has improved since Labor Day weekend; Harbaugh's squad may be one year away, but he may have them believing otherwise.
- Nebraska has lost two brutal games this season, and their defense may not be able to keep up with Michigan State.
- Indiana is 4-0, but they struggled in the process against the likes of Southern Illinois, Western Kentucky, and Wake Forest; good luck Saturday against Ohio State.
- Iowa has also started 4-0 against weak competition in their quest to win the Big Ten West, but they're getting an upgrade in opposition this weekend.
Indeed, there's Wisconsin. The Badgers don't face either Ohio State or Michigan State and could well wind up being an against-all-odds spoiler in the conference championship game.
The only other unbeaten team with a puncher's chance in the Big Ten is Northwestern.
The Wildcats shocked Stanford in Week 1 and also have a quality win over Duke. Yes, a quality win. In the not too distant past the only time that pairing would be described as quality would've ben in the old College Bowl.
Compare this 1959 excerpt to what we get today: Are You Smarter than a Fifth-Grader?
Here's a bonus question: What parents in their right mind would name their daughter Cherry White, for chrissakes!
Getting back to the gridiron, the Wildcats do face Michigan and Nebraska down the road as well as Iowa, but coach Pat Fitzgerald's squad could be playing for a division title on that same Sat 21 Nov when they travel to Wisconsin.
No matter who wins the West, they'll be huge underdogs against either Ohio State or Michigan State in December's title tilt. And even a one-loss Buckeye or Spartan team may still be in the mix for the CFP bracket by then.