Last Chance to Impress: Big Ten Championship Week

The end of the regular season in college football is here. This past weekend was a rather crazy as both #1 and #2 lost. All Alabama can do is wait. Miami gets a crack at what should be the new #1 in Clemson this weekend in the ACC Championship game. I think the winner of that game makes the playoff as well as the winner of Georgia vs. Auburn. That leaves 2 spots for a combination of Oklahoma, who plays TCU this weekend, Ohio State and Wisconsin, who play each other, and Alabama who has a rare championship week without a game. It will make for an interesting weekend as a possibly very deserving team or two will be left out.

Here are a few thoughts from around the Big Ten.

  1. Ohio State vs. Michigan. The best rivalry in football provided a very entertaining game on the last Saturday of the season. This loss for Michigan puts Jim Harbaugh’s record at 1-6 against Michigan State and Ohio State. Not a great look for someone who was supposed to be the savior of the program and go toe to toe with Urban Meyer. Ohio State hung tough the whole game and proved they were better team in fourth quarter.
  2. J.T. Barrett. This is probably one of the craziest stories of the year. Barrett, who has been struggling with a knee problem all year, was bumped into before the game on the sideline by a camera man and reaggrevated his injury. He tried to play his way through the game but eventually was taken out in the third quarter. This a freak incident and Urban Meyer was not happy about it after the game. Barrett should be healthy enough to play against the Badgers in the most important game of the year but if not, we will see Dwayne Haskins get his first start.
  3. Wilton Speight. Michigan’s starting quarterback, who has been sidelined since October, announced that he will transfer and play his final season elsewhere. Speight finishes his Michigan career with 3,192 passing yards, 22 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. This means that Michigan will be left with either sophomore Brandon Peters, who played in 5 games this year, or freshman Dylan McCaffrey, brother of Christian and ranked as the 6th best QB in his class.

Match Up To Watch This Week. Ohio State vs. Wisconsin. 

A representative from Big Ten has gone on to the playoff every year since its start and both the Buckeyes and Badgers hope that it doesn’t change. Wisconsin is the last of the unbeaten in the Power 5 conferences while Ohio State has J.T. Barrett and defense that is one of the best in the country. This game is a toss up to me. This game features two of the top defenses in the country and both offenses have really seemed to struggle at times. Wisconsin’s LB’s will help shut down the run game of Weber, Dobbins and Barrett while the Ohio State DL will put pressure on the turnover prone Hornibrook. I think this game will come down to special teams. Ohio State has struggled at times this year with defending returns against Penn State and Michigan. They also have had some key blocks on punts and kicks so you never know what you might get from the Buckeyes. I give Wisconsin the slight edge with Nick Nelson as a return man and with Rafael Gaglianone hitting 86% of his field goals and a long of 52 yards.

I believe the winner of this game will get over Alabama. I am more confident that Wisconsin would but I still believe a two-loss OSU team would as well. That would give them wins over Penn State, Wisconsin, Michigan State and Michigan two top 10 teams, a top 20 team and a rivalry  win on the road verse a good team. Alabama has Mississippi State, LSU and Florida State to boast. The resume along with momentum gives Ohio State the edge in my opinion.

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