B1G bowl projections, Week 1: Playing favorites
Is this the year the Big Ten snaps its drought?
That’s the first thing every B1G fan wants to know. The bad news is that for the past two years, the league has missed out on the four-team College Football Playoff field.
The worse news is, the past two times a Big Ten team has made the CFP, it has been shut out.
In other words, for those scoring at home — don’t bother. The last time a B1G team put a single point on the scoreboard in a CFP game was when Ohio State won the national championship in the inaugural 2014-15 Playoff.
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Here is our take: Oklahoma is still the team to beat in the Big 12 but Texas is getting very close, and there are a couple of other dangerous teams in that league as well, so the Sooners might not have as smooth of a path as in previous years.
And the Pac-12 lost its best chance to make a case for itself when Oregon lost to Auburn on Saturday after leading almost the entire game, unless a Pac-12 team goes undefeated. And the league looks to be too balanced for that.
A second team out of the ACC besides Clemson? Uh, no.
Outside of Playoff favorites Alabama, Clemson and Georgia, that leaves the B1G and, maybe, Notre Dame wrestling over the fourth spot. Remember, the Fighting Irish ran the table in the regular season in 2018, keeping out the second-best SEC team (Georgia) while the B1G champ (Ohio State) finished sixth in final CFP voting. But it is really hard to go undefeated twice in a row.
Besides, Notre Dame has to come to Ann Arbor this year.
Which leads us to our conclusion: Michigan not only gets Notre Dame at home, but Ohio State too. The Wolverines have to travel to Penn State and Wisconsin, but even a loss in one of those will not knock them out of the CFP race if — and this is always the if at Michigan — they can finally beat Ohio State and win the B1G title.
For now, the guess here is that coach Jim Harbaugh’s time has come for that, and a shot in the CFP.
Now, on to our first B1G bowl projections of the season, in approximately the Big Ten bowl pecking order: