The other day, I saw a graphic of the 12 unbeaten FBS teams left in the country.

It was only then that it occurred to me that 1/3 of those teams were from the B1G. Minnesota, Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin are all undefeated.

Here’s the Power 5 breakdown of the remaining unbeatens:

  • B1G: 4 (Minnesota, Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin)
  • SEC: 2 (Alabama, LSU)
  • Big 12: 2 (Baylor, Oklahoma)
  • ACC: 1 (Clemson)
  • Pac-12: 0

So as it relates to the Playoff — a Group of 5 team isn’t getting in this year — 4 of the 9 remaining unbeaten Power 5 teams are from the B1G heading into Week 8. The B1G has 2 teams from the East who are undefeated, and it has 2 teams from the West who are undefeated.

Granted, that’s subject to change. Every one of those B1G teams has at least 2 matchups against a B1G unbeaten. But, Alabama and LSU face off in a few weeks, as will Baylor and Oklahoma. In other words, no conference has a chance of entering its conference title game with a pair of unbeatens.

Well, except for the B1G.

That’s part of the reason why this is shaping up to be a can’t-miss year for the B1G in the Playoff. I think.

Perhaps it took both Florida AND Georgia suffering their first loss to put that together. That certainly decreased the odds of a 2-team SEC Playoff, though there are still plenty of paths to that (mainly LSU falling to Alabama and making it in without playing in the SEC Championship).

But my goodness, this is being served up on a silver platter for the B1G to end the drought.

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In 2018 when the B1G missed the field, the conference had 1 remaining unbeaten in the Week 8 AP Top 25. It was 7-0 Ohio State … who then proceeded to get whacked by Purdue in West Lafayette, which took a bigger machete to the conference’s Playoff chances than we might’ve realized.

In 2017 when the B1G missed the field, the conference had 2 remaining unbeatens. Penn State was at No. 2, but with showdowns against Michigan, at Ohio State and at Michigan State on the horizon. That proved to be too much of a gauntlet. Wisconsin, meanwhile, ran the table in the regular season and actually possessed the B1G’s best chance heading into conference championship weekend. But 2-loss Ohio State spoiled that.

For the first time since 2016, the B1G looks like it could have a pair of division winners with Playoff aspirations heading into the B1G Championship. Is it too early for me to say that? Sure. But my goodness, Ohio State and Wisconsin have been dominant (it helps when you allow less than 9 points per game).

Check out the average margin of victory for each remaining Power 5 unbeaten:

  1. Ohio State: +40.5
  2. Wisconsin: +37.7
  3. Alabama: +34
  4. Penn State: +33.8
  5. LSU: +31.3
  6. Oklahoma: +29.8
  7. Clemson: +26.8
  8. Baylor: +20
  9. Minnesota: +11.7

Does margin of victory predict success? Not necessarily, but the B1G’s unbeatens have looked the part so far. That’s why the AP has them as 3 of the top 7 teams in the country.

The last time the B1G had 3 unbeatens in the top 7 in Week 8 or later?

Technically, that hasn’t happened during the Playoff era, but in Week 8 of 2016, the B1G had No. 2 Ohio State (6-0), No. 3 Michigan (6-0) and No. 8 Nebraska (6-0).

It’s obviously a different year, but what’s the scenario in which the B1G gets left out of the field? Doomsday is still unbeaten Alabama, unbeaten Clemson, unbeaten Oklahoma and 11-1, non-SEC Championship LSU. That would still be hotly debated, I’m sure.

However, that’s only doomsday if the B1G champ has a loss. That seems likely considering we’ve yet to see a team with a 9-game conference schedule take a perfect record into the Playoff. That’s also why odds favor Oklahoma tripping up at least once. That would feel a bit like 2018 in one sense, and not so much in another (I’ll get to that later).

Another B1G-less Playoff would have to involve the remaining unbeatens beating up on each other to create a scenario in which the B1G had a 2-loss conference champ for the third time in 4 years.

But even that seems far-fetched because a 2-loss Wisconsin team wouldn’t win the West. Minnesota would. And is a 1-loss Minnesota team that would need to beat Wisconsin AND the East winner getting left out of the field? Man, I’d hope not.

The same is true in the East. It seems highly unlikely that a 2-loss East winner will be in Indianapolis. Maybe if Michigan, Penn State and Ohio State were all in some 3-way tie and Michigan won the tiebreaker? I don’t know.

The point is, this is shaping up to be a year in which even a 1-loss B1G conference champion will have racked up enough quality wins to make the field. Remember that including a conference title game, Minnesota, Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin will all have at least 3 games against one other (and/or Michigan) to continue to build their respective résumés.

Last year, the B1G hurt Ohio State’s chances. In the pre-Playoff poll, Ohio State only had wins against 3 teams who were currently ranked in the top 25. The same was true with Oklahoma, but the difference being that lone loss was a 3-point, neutral site game against New Year’s 6-bound Texas. Compare that to a 29-point beatdown to 6-win Purdue. And it probably didn’t help that Ohio State faced 4-loss Northwestern in the B1G Championship while Oklahoma avenged its loss to Texas.

This year, the B1G should help Ohio State, Wisconsin, Penn State, Minnesota or even Michigan’s Playoff chances (slim as the Wolverines’ are). It’ll be reminiscent of 2015 and 2016 when the B1G Championship was a Playoff quarterfinal of sorts. At least it should.

And if that does happen? Well, I’ll bet the B1G scores its first Playoff point in 5 years.

One drought at a time, though.