B1G bowl watch: Two clinch postseason, Hoosiers inch closer, Terps wait
While everyone is focused on the first College Football Playoff poll being released on Tuesday, there were a few other things up for grabs on Saturday.
Some bragging rights here, some bowl berths there, and it was actually bigger Saturday than the slate might’ve suggested.
Three B1G teams — not including Wisconsin — had bowl berths on the line Saturday. Others had to wait. Here’s how the day broke down for those B1G teams bidding for a postseason berth:
Maryland can’t stop IU’s running game, can’t clinch bowl berth
Maryland’s postseason scenario was pretty simple. Win at Indiana and once-lofty bowl aspirations were already met.
But 414 rushing yards allowed later, and Maryland is still stuck on five wins.
For a while, it didn’t seem like Indiana’s offense was ever going to look like the 2015 group that set school records. Saturday, the Hoosiers looked like the high-powered machine we’ve come to expect from Kevin Wilson’s program.
Indiana had not one, not two but three players record 100-yard games. As a result, the Hoosiers delivered their best offensive effort of the year:
The Hoosiers now only need to pick up wins against Rutgers and Purdue to clinch consecutive bowl berths for the first time in 25 years. They figure to be significant favorites in both of those contests.
Did that really change anything for Maryland’s bowl aspirations? Not necessarily, though the Terps will be underdogs in their next three games before that Rutgers finale. Barring a miracle, that means six wins could have to wait another month.
Minnesota takes care of Illinois for fifth straight postseason berth
The preseason question with Minnesota wasn’t whether or not they’d clinch a bowl berth. The schedule set up favorably for the Gophers, unlike the year before. The question was whether or not Minnesota could beat the teams it was supposed to beat and clinch a bowl berth in October.
For the fifth time in as many years, the Gophers are going bowling. And once again, they avoided a letdown. Minnesota’s sixth win of the season was a bit more lopsided than some expected.
The Gophers used the same “slash and dash” formula that’s worked for them all year. Shannon Brooks and Rodney Smith did the damage.
Technically, the Gophers are still alive for the division race. With games left against Wisconsin and Nebraska, the Gophers could have a historic season with wins against those two B1G powers.
A home tilt against Purdue next week could be the last time the Gophers are favored. Ending the season against the likes of Nebraska, Northwestern and Wisconsin looks far more difficult than it did two months ago.
If Minnesota can win one of those games, the Gophers will have eight wins for the third time in four years. That would be the first time they accomplished that feat since joining the B1G.
Penn State locks up postseason, in line for best season of Franklin era
Nobody was talking about Penn State clinching a bowl berth on Saturday. Avoiding a letdown at Purdue and staying with the B1G East contenders was of greater importance.
Fortunately for the Lions, they did both. In convincing fashion, to say the least.
Saquon Barkley might still be running for touchdowns. And after a shake start, the PSU defense looked like it did down the stretch against Ohio State.
With six wins, the Lions will likely be favored in their final four games. With that in mind, it wouldn’t surprise anyone if PSU finished the regular season with double digit wins for the first time since 2009.
If Barkley keeps ripping off runs like this, there’s an outside chances that Penn State runs all the way to Pasadena.