Biggest potential for chaos awaits B1G in the final weekend
The B1G has avoided that one crazy weekend for 12 weeks.
Analysts call it “upset Saturday.” It’s like a snake. It’s usually hidden and nobody knows when or where it will strike. But that snake takes out several top-ranked teams with a single lunge.
It happened on the national level last weekend, with three of the top four teams losing. As a result, the Playoff committee at its first real debate about who should occupy the top four spots and where they should fall.
On the B1G front, that type of chaos has remained relatively quiet.
Penn State’s win over Ohio State threw a wrench into the potential plans for a winner-take-all bout between the Buckeyes and Michigan in the final week of the season. Iowa’s upset bid over the maize-and-blue expanded the division race and put a damper on the hopes of the B1G ending the year with an undefeated conference champion.
Have there been some unexpected moments?
Sure. Every week the B1G has encountered some sort of strange performance or outcome. Iowa was stunned early in the season by FCS foe North Dakota State on a last-second kick. Ty Johnson rushed for 204 yards on seven carries against Purdue. Throw in Penn State’s blocked field goal and Iowa’s game-winning field goal into the mix, too. Don’t forget about Austin Carr’s 12-catch, 132-yard performance against the mighty Wisconsin defense, either.
Those are just a few of the moments that have left us scratching our heads and raising our eyebrows. They’ve been unprecedented occurrences that we’ve almost come to expect on a weekly basis.
But complete mayhem?
Not in all in one weekend. Not in the B1G.
Potential for disarray along the top of the East standings fell apart when Michigan State failed to convert on a two-point conversion try against Ohio State and Indiana surrendered a 17-point third quarter to Michigan. It made for great entertainment, but for once, everything played out as expected and set up one of the most meaningful and impactful closing weekends in the conference in quite some time.
It also sets up the best opportunity for havoc to ensue.
Five teams are still battling for a spot in the B1G title game. Three teams sit on the verge of bowl eligibility.
The remaining six? Those are the teams that can blow this whole thing up.
One game is exempt from any surprise outcomes. “The Game” will feature No. 2 Ohio State and No. 3 Michigan. It’s the most meaningful contest between the two programs since 2006 when they owned the top spots in college football. And even though the Buckeyes open as a touchdown favorite, nobody would be surprised if the Wolverines recorded a victory in Columbus and ended a four-game skid to their hated rivalry.
Every other game in the conference is subject to an upset.
Minnesota can ruin Wisconsin’s hopes of getting to a fourth B1G Championship Game. Iowa could burst Nebraska’s bubble on Friday. With no bowl eligibility on the line, Michigan State is only playing for the chance to spoil Penn State’s memorable season.
Rutgers, Purdue and Illinois are all out of the postseason picture, but all three play teams with five wins, hoping to reach the .500 mark and continue their season after Saturday.
Could the Boilermakers take back the Old Oaken Bucket and spoil Indiana’s hopes at back-to-back bowl berths for the first time since the 1990-91 seasons? Does Rutgers have the ability to knock off Maryland and end D.J. Durkin’s first year on a sour note? Will Illinois keep Northwestern from the six-win mark just one year after the Wildcats finished the year 10-3?
Think about this: If Rutgers, Purdue and Illinois all won on Saturday, the B1G would only have seven teams that secured bowl eligibility. The conference may not be able to argue its the best in the country if only half its members are participating in postseason games.
And how about this scenario: If Minnesota beats Wisconsin, Nebraska takes care of Iowa and Michigan beats Ohio State, the Wolverines would meet the Huskers Nebraska in the B1G title game. What happens if Mike Riley is holding the conference trophy rather than Jim Harbaugh? Everyone in the conference would have two losses.
Would the College Football Playoff hopes for the B1G be completed eviscerated after such a promising year?
Those are a lot of “what ifs.” It’s really unlikely – almost impossible – that’s how the final weekend would play out. The scenarios are real, though. Why not add a little drama to what’s been a relatively boring playoff discussion to this point?
Someone is going to play spoiler this weekend. The B1G has been too weird for everything to work out perfectly two weeks in a row. It’s just a matter of who and how many that leave of us curious heading into the regular season finale.
Who’s up for a little pandemonium to go with their Thanksgiving leftovers on Saturday?