By Cole Massie
Two outcomes are possible with two weeks remaining of Big Ten play: Ohio State playing Iowa in the Big Ten Championship Game, or complete and utter chaos. Given the events of the last three weeks, complete and utter chaos is not out of the question.
Who won’t be in the Big Ten Championship Game:
Penn State – 7-3 (4-2 in Big Ten)
- Despite Penn State’s quality season, they have no possible way of making it to Indianapolis. Ohio State has the tiebreaker over the Nittany Lions, even if they do win out. They could jump into the top 25 if they beat Michigan and Michigan State to finish out the season.
Illinois – 5-5 (2-4 in Big Ten)
- The Fighting Illini still have a chance to go bowling this winter, but a trip to Indianapolis is out of the question.
Nebraska – 5-6 (3-4 in Big Ten)
- They ruined everything last week! The Cornhuskers’ upset win over Michigan State provided a signature win for a dismal season.
Minnesota – 4-6 (1-5 in Big Ten)
- The Gophers have battled injuries and the retirement of their head coach, Jerry Kill, resulting in an underachieving season.
Purdue – 2-8 (1-5 in Big Ten)
- The lowly Boilermakers have had a rough go it for… well, ever.
Rutgers – 3-7 (1-6 in Big Ten)
- Their sole Big Ten win came in a 55-52 shootout with Indiana. There’s always next year, Rutgers (but probably not).
Indiana – 4-6 (0-6 in Big Ten)
- After a promising 4-0 start to the year, Indiana is winless. The Hoosiers have lost 12 of their last 13 in-conference games.
Maryland – 2-8 (0-6 in Big Ten)
- 2015 has not been kind to the Terrapins. They share last place in the Big Ten East with Indiana.
Here’s who has an outside shot at the championship game:
Wisconsin – 8-2 (5-1 in Big Ten)
- The Badgers seemingly fell off the face of the planet after their opening game loss to Alabama, but the team has rebounded nicely. They need to win out and need Iowa to lose two of their last three games to get back to Indianapolis.
Northwestern – 8-2 (4-2 in Big Ten)
- Northwestern making their first trip to the Big Ten Championship Game will take lots of chaos. The Wildcats need to win out and need Iowa to lose out. Not an ideal situation for Pat Fitzgerald’s squad.
Here are the Big Ten Championship Game contenders:
Ohio State – 10-0 (6-0 in Big Ten)
- The Buckeyes have looked impressive with J.T. Barrett under center, but last week’s win over Minnesota was less than stellar. Nevertheless, the Buckeyes are undefeated and simply need to win out to make the Big Ten Championship Game.
Iowa – 10-0 (6-0 in Big Ten)
- Who expected the Hawkeyes to be undefeated heading into week 11? Don’t lie. Iowa’s circumstances are the exact same as Ohio State: just win out.
Michigan State – 9-1 (5-1 in Big Ten)
- Michigan State had everything the way they wanted last week, and then Nebraska happened. The Spartan’s letdown means they’ll have to beat Penn State at home and Ohio State in Columbus.
Michigan – 8-2 (5-1 in Big Ten)
- The Wolverines could have created an epic showdown in the last week of the regular season with Ohio State if they hadn’t blown the final play of the game against Michigan State. Still, the Wolverines will have an essential Big Ten Championship play-in game against the Buckeyes if both teams win their next two games.
My money is on an Ohio State–Iowa showdown in Indianapolis. If both teams remain undefeated, the Big Ten Championship will be a de facto play-in game to the College Football Playoff. College football sure is fun, isn’t it?