B1G what-if scenarios could've completely shifted narratives of 2015
What’s in the past is in the past. Everybody has accepted their fate and moved on to bowl season. You can’t change the course of history, so why bother talking about it?
I hear you loud and clear.
Still, it’s crazy to think about how dramatically the narratives in the B1G regular season would’ve changed with these “what-if” scenarios:
4. What if…Drew Wolitarsky fell a foot further against Michigan
Everybody remembers Minnesota’s horrific clock management in the closing seconds against Michigan. But had Wolitarsky simply fallen less than a foot further, Minnesota would’ve had a four-point lead with 19 seconds left against a backup quarterback. That was the original ruling on the field. The game would’ve been virtually over. Tracy Claeys would’ve gotten a monumental win in his first game as coach, and Michigan would’ve suffered its second straight crushing loss. This might sound far-fetched but would the perceptive of Jim Harbaugh have changed in Ann Arbor? The Wolverines would’ve been sitting at 5-3, eliminated from any division or playoff race with a month left in the season. But Michigan got the call reversed and had a goal-line stand that turned out to be the boost the Wolverines needed to get some late-game confidence back.
3. What if…Wisconsin finished that final drive vs. Iowa
The Badgers were 16 yards away from knocking off the Hawkeyes in the B1G opener. If the Badgers had scored, Iowa would’ve lost and have found themselves nowhere near the top-five all season. Even if the rest of the season played out exactly the same, Wisconsin would’ve had the tiebreaker and earned a spot in the B1G Championship. We wouldn’t have ever had the “Iowa gets no respect” debate and Colin Cowherd would’ve had so much empty air time. Wisconsin could’ve had a shot at a New Year’s Six bowl with a solid showing in the B1G Championship. Instead, Joel Stave couldn’t convert on 4th and 2 and Iowa’s storybook season took off.
2. What if…Michael Geiger’s game-winning kick vs. Ohio State hooked left
With swirling winds and rainy conditions, Geiger had to play the wind perfectly. Had his kick hooked left, we would’ve headed to an epic overtime with a potential B1G East crown on the line. Would it have given the Buckeyes the shot-in-the-arm they needed to pull out a victory? After all, they only had two first downs in the entire second half. Michigan State was the team that had just controlled the line of scrimmage. You can never assume anything will happen in overtime, but if the fourth quarter was any indication, MSU would’ve still had the advantage in the extra frame. If the Buckeye offense could’ve found a way to win in overtime, OSU would’ve still been in prime position to beat Michigan and Iowa to earn a top-two spot in the College Football Playoff. But the Spartan offense — as its become known to do — marched down the field in the final minutes and Geiger’s boot never gave the Buckeye offense to form a last-ditch effort.
Instead, we had this:
1. What if…Michigan executed a normal punt in the final 12 seconds vs. MSU
Ohio State fans might’ve laughed at the time, but had Michigan executed a normal punt, the Buckeyes would’ve been in the driver’s seat to make the College Football Playoff. Even if everything played out exactly the same as it did, Ohio State would’ve been in favorable position. They would’ve had the loss to Michigan State, but it would’ve been OSU’s only defeat of the season. They would’ve had the tiebreaker against Michigan, which would’ve finished the season 10-2 (7-1 in B1G). Ohio State would’ve represented the East in the B1G Championship against Iowa, with that still being a do-or-die College Football Playoff scenario for both teams. There’s no guarantee the Buckeyes would’ve beat Iowa, but it would’ve put them in the same scenario they were in last year’s postseason. That woke them up in 2014. Could the same have happened in 2015? Thanks to Jalen Watts-Jackson, we’ll never know.