The Big Ten has 4 teams you could argue will win the Big Ten and make the College Football Playoff. However, since the inception of the CFP, no conference has gotten 2 teams into the playoff in one year. I think if anyone has the best chance, its the Big Ten. We have a long way to go but I will try to predict some scenarios where we might see 2 Big Ten teams in the final 4.
1. Ohio State and Penn State. I think that this is the most feasible option for the Big Ten. They are currently the two highest ranked teams and both should pass the eye test to the committee. October 28 will be an important night. Both teams need to come into that game undefeated and I think both the winner and loser will have to run the table after with the winner ultimately winning the Big Ten. To go even further, I think that Penn State needs to win and go on and finish as the Big Ten Champion while Ohio State goes on to finish with one loss. After that matchup on October 28, Penn State plays MSU, Rutgers, Nebraska, and Maryland. That is not an impressive list. If they lose to OSU, their games after won’t give the committee a chance to impress and boost their stock. But if OSU loses, they still a date with Michigan at the Big House in their finale, which means a chance to beat a top 10 team on the road. So even if the Buckeyes don’t win the Big Ten, a resume with wins against Oklahoma and at Michigan will help them bolster a chance to get in. With addition of the Big 12 Championship game, their will be 5 conference champions fighting for those 4 spots. With Florida State losing and the loss of Deondre Francois, I don’t think any other conference has the ability to get a second team in the mix. If a couple of two or three loss teams can win their conference, then I think the Big Ten is in good shape to sneak a second team in the CFB.
2. Michigan and Ohio State. I think that this scenario is close second behind the first. I think that if both teams are undefeated coming into the last game of the regular season in Ann Arbor, their is a legitimate chance that both teams make it, especially if the game is anything like last year. Whoever wins needs to go on and win the Big Ten and then the loser might need some help. Unlike the last scenario, I don’t think it matters so much who wins the game. The loser would have wins against either Oklahoma or Florida and both would have beaten Penn State. Like the last scenario, the loser will be rooting for a team with a couple of losses to win their conference championship.
3. Ohio State and Wisconsin. In this scenario, OSU would be a one loss team to the winner of the East and Wisconsin would beat that team in the Big Ten Championship. With wins against Oklahoma and either PSU or U of M, Ohio State would still be alive, but in need of desperate help.
4. Michigan and Penn State. Again, this would require on team to run the table and the other to have their only loss be to the other team. To make it most likely, similar to Scenario 1, Penn State would likely have to run the table and Michigan would be able to beat the Buckeyes in their final game and give the committee a reason to consider them.
Teams that the Big Ten (and its fans) should root for to lose: Teams that might go undefeated/or have one loss and win their conference like USC, Washington, Oklahoma State, Florida State, Clemson, Auburn. Luckily, Clemson plays Auburn and Florida State this season and USC and Washington would both meet in the PAC 12 Championship if they are undefeated. If Clemson loses a game and Florida State loses another game without Francois, which is very possible, the ACC might be in trouble. If the PAC 12 or Big 12 can’t deliver an undefeated champion (Teams like Stanford, UCLA, and Washington State, West Virginia might fit in that category), the committee like another Big Ten team over a champion of a conference that isn’t as strong.