No. 6 Ohio State lost 55-24 at Iowa and No. 7 Penn State lost 27-24 to No. 24 Michigan State in two more surprises that complicate the Big Ten and College Football Playoff picture.
The Buckeyes (7-2, 5-1) might be out of the playoff mix, even though they’re still in control of their own destiny in the Big Ten East. Iowa, meanwhile, might have derailed yet another playoff bid for an opponent like it did against Michigan in 2016.
Michigan State (7-2, 5-1), meanwhile, can take control of the Big Ten East with a victory at Ohio State next week in a scenario few thought possible. Penn State (7-2, 4-2) dropped a second straight game in the division. Even Michigan (6-2, 3-2) has life within the division now. It’s a mess.
It was an unexpected shock to the standings, especially in the Big Ten. Here is how it impacts the Big Ten championship and playoff picture:
Ohio State looks done
It would be one thing if the Buckeyes lost by a touchdown on the road. Iowa dominated Ohio State in all three phases. J.T. Barrett threw four interceptions, and Iowa ran off 31 unanswered points after a 17-17 tie. Ohio State already lost soundly to Oklahoma 31-16 on Sept. 9, and there hasn’t been a two-loss team in the College Football Playoff yet. You can recover from a loss, but even a team of Ohio State’s pedigree seldom recovers from two, especially when the second one is a blowout on the road to a three-loss team.
That’s a lot to overcome, no matter who you are. It’s going to take major chaos to get the Buckeyes back in.
Penn State is done
Instead of taking advantage of Ohio State’s misfortune, Penn State endured a lengthy delay in the rain against Michigan State. The Spartans battled back in a water-logged victory to knock off the Nittany Lions. Penn State now has two Big Ten losses and no clear path to the Big Ten championship game because of those head-to-head losses to the Buckeyes and Spartans.
Spartans control destiny
Michigan State already has victories against Michigan and Penn State in hand, and the balance of the Big Ten East will be decided in Columbus next week. The Spartans probably wish they had last week’s loss to Northwestern back, because that and a loss to Notre Dame on Sept. 9 likely keeps them out of the College Football Playoff.
Michigan State, however, can still win the Big Ten East. Given Mark Dantonio’s hot seat after a 3-9 campaign in 2016, that’s impressive.
Big Ten East is a mess
The Big Ten East might be the best division in the FBS, but playing in it makes upsets like Ohio State losing to Iowa or Michigan State losing to Northwestern almost impossible to withstand in the long run.
Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan and Penn State all have two losses. The Buckeyes still play the Spartans and Wolverines. There is more carnage left. It’s a brutal division, but this will be the first year where one of those teams doesn’t represent the conference in the College Football Playoff. It’s all because of those losses outside the division, but the blame can come from within.
Badgers or nothing?
For all the talk about where the Badgers opened in the College Football Playoff rankings or the lack of strength of schedule, the Badgers are now the best bet in the Big Ten to make the playoff based on their 9-0 record.
The Badgers still have Michigan on the schedule on Nov. 18 and are a strong bet to make it to Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship game.
MORE: Big Ten chaos scenarios
Irish are loving it
You know who benefits from all this? Notre Dame. The Irish have a compelling case without a conference championship game. If the Big Ten cannibalizes itself out of the playoff, then it’s that much easier to let the Fighting Irish in. The Irish are in good shape now, especially considering they beat Michigan State 38-18 in East Lansing on Sept. 9.