Big Ten Football Insider: Ohio State among the nation's unbeaten

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 10, 2013 - 10:43 PM

Ohio State is one of a handful of unbeaten teams at the midway mark. They are not all judged equally.

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Quarterback Braxton Miller and the rest of the Buckeyes are idle this week before games against Iowa, Penn State, Purdue, Illinois and Indiana. They finish with Michigan.

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Any chance we can get that four-team College Football Playoff format ready one year ahead of time?

At this rate, the final year of the BCS national championship format could leave some pretty good teams on the outside looking in.

Ohio State could go undefeated, for example, and still not make the BCS title game on Jan. 6 in Pasadena. And the Big Ten isn’t the only conference sweating this. The ACC, Pac-12 and Big 12 could have undefeated teams get snubbed, too.

I know — it’s still early. The first BCS poll doesn’t come out until Oct. 20, but Jerry Palm, from CBSSports.com, currently has Ohio State at No. 5 in his latest simulation, behind Alabama, Clemson, Stanford and Oregon.

That’s what Ohio State gets for playing a weak nonconference schedule, featuring Buffalo, San Diego State, Cal and Florida A&M.

After surviving tests against Wisconsin and Northwestern, Ohio State should coast through its next five games — against Iowa, Penn State, Purdue, Illinois and Indiana — before its annual showdown with Michigan.

The Wolverines are undefeated, too, but they look pretty vulnerable. In fact, Buckeyes fans might find themselves cheering for Michigan in coming weeks just so the Wolverines can climb the rankings (from No. 16 in Palm’s simulation) to enhance OSU’s strength of schedule.

– that game will resonate.

But by then, the teams ranked ahead of Ohio State will all have chances to sway voters. Here are four games fans can’t wait to see over the next month:

Oct. 19, Florida State (5-0) at Clemson (5-0): With two Heisman candidates at quarterback — Jameis Winston and Tajh Boyd — this one will pretty much decide which team represents the ACC Atlantic Division in the conference title game.

Clemson already has an impressive win over Georgia and still plays South Carolina. Florida State, which is currently ranked No. 6 on Palm’s computer, has November games coming against Miami and Florida.

Oct. 26, Oklahoma (5-0) at Baylor (4-0): Like the Big Ten, the Big 12 is lagging behind the SEC, ACC and Pac-12 in various conference power ratings. But Oklahoma and Baylor are still intriguing.

This game will be a Thursday night special, featuring Oklahoma’s stingy defense against a Baylor team that is averaging 779.5 yards and 70.5 points per game. Those stats aren’t misprints.

Nov. 7, Oregon (5-0) at Stanford (5-0): Another Thursday night gem, this one likely will decide the Pac-12 North Division.

Stanford already is battle tested, coming off a thrilling win over Washington last Saturday. Oregon hasn’t played an FBS team with a winning record, but it faces Washington and UCLA before visiting Palo Alto.

Nov. 9, LSU (5-1) at Alabama (5-0): An LSU win would throw the SEC West into chaos and would benefit Texas A&M, which lost to Alabama on Sept. 14. Johnny Manziel and the Aggies travel to Baton Rouge on Nov. 23.

Seeking its third consecutive national title, Alabama hopes to run the table. And by the end, the SEC could have a one-loss team competing for a BCS title game berth. Georgia, for example, would have a strong case considering its one loss was by three points at Clemson on Aug. 31.

Teams from other conferences, such as Louisville, Fresno State and Northern Illinois have legitimate chances at finishing undefeated, too. So that four-team College Football Playoff can’t come soon enough. Actually, an eight-team bracket might help.

Big Ten Short Takes

• The schedule could help the Gophers at Northwestern next week. Minnesota will be a big underdog, but it’ll be coming off a bye. And Northwestern could be bruised, battered and emotionally spent, coming off games against Ohio State and Wisconsin.

The Wildcats played well in a 40-30 loss to Ohio State, but the rushing yards went: Buckeyes 248, Wildcats 94. The key for the Gophers will be disrupting Northwestern’s precision-filled passing game.

• Nebraska and Indiana both head on the road this week after playing nothing but home games so far this year. The Cornhuskers are at Purdue, and the Hoosiers are at Michigan State.

Indiana opened eyes with last week’s victory over Penn State. That trip to Bloomington, Ind., on Nov. 2, looks even tougher for the Gophers, who are 2-16 in their past 18 games there.

• Iowa has been burned by six consecutive fake punts, dating to 2010, including two this season. Hawkeyes coach Kirk Ferentz is “dead serious” when he says his team may never try to return a punt again — focusing instead on preventing fakes

“I may be leaning toward the point where you never try to see us return one again,” he said. “Just fair catch it and try to keep it off the ground.”

Big Ten Power Poll

1. Ohio State (6-0, 2-0): Wisconsin and Northwestern played the Buckeyes tougher than Michigan figures to Nov. 30.

2. Michigan (5-0, 1-0): Went 25 games in a row with at least one turnover before last week’s victory over the Gophers.

3. Northwestern (4-1, 0-1): Trevor Siemian leads Big Ten in pass efficiency (171.3); teammate Kain Colter is third (160.2).

4. Wisconsin (3-2, 1-1): Will there be a letdown now that Ohio State has all but wrapped up the Leaders Division?

5. Michigan State (4-1, 1-0): Leads the nation in total defense, allowing just 203.8 yards per game.

6. Nebraska (4-1, 1-0): Taylor Martinez (turf toe) likely sits through the bye week, returning Oct. 26 at Minnesota.

7. Iowa (4-2, 1-1): Bye week, then hold on tight, as Hawkeyes play Ohio State, Northwestern and Wisconsin.

8. Indiana (3-2, 1-0): Nate Sudfeld leads the Big Ten in passing yards per game with 293.4.

9. Penn State (3-2, 0-1): The Nittany Lions rushed for just 70 yards in their 44-24 loss to Indiana.

10. Illinois (3-2, 0-1): Second bye in four weeks gives the Illini more time to work on their defensive woes.

11. Gophers (4-2, 0-2): Ra’Shede Hageman ranks fifth in the Big Ten with 6½ tackles for a loss.

12. Purdue (1-4, 0-1): True freshman quarterback Danny Etling will make first career start vs. Nebraska.

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Chicago 17 FINAL
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Green Bay
Denver 11/30/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Miami 12/1/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
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Robert Morris 71
Santa Clara 57 FINAL
Tennessee 64
Oklahoma 59 FINAL
Butler 46
Austin Peay 79 FINAL
Brown 58
Princeton 56 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 62
Coastal Carolina 67 FINAL
Chattanooga 78
Kansas 76 FINAL
Rhode Island 60
Wisconsin 68 FINAL
Georgetown 65
FIU 53 FINAL
USC Upstate 68
Long Island 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 73
San Diego 71 FINAL
Xavier 82
Illinois 88 FINAL
Indiana State 62
Cal State Fullerton 67 FINAL
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Michigan State 77 2nd Half 1:48
Rider 45
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North Carolina 38
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Georgia Tech
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Western Mich
Stephen F Austin 8:00 PM
Prairie View
UAB 8:30 PM
Florida
Rice 8:30 PM
Mercer
San Jose St 10:00 PM
Washington
Washington St 10:59 PM
UC Santa Barbara
Baylor 10:59 PM
Memphis
LSU 0 2nd Qtr 14:30
Texas A&M 7
(6) TCU 13 2nd Qtr 13:53
Texas 0
Northern Ill 11/28/14 10:00 AM
Western Mich
Nebraska 11/28/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
Western Ky 11/28/14 11:00 AM
(19) Marshall
UCF 11/28/14 11:00 AM
So Florida
Houston 11/28/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Akron 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Massachusetts
Toledo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Arkansas 11/28/14 1:30 PM
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Navy 11/28/14 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(12) Arizona
Stanford 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 11/28/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 11/28/14 7:30 PM
Tulsa
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(16) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(8) Georgia
Kentucky 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(24) Louisville
So Carolina 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(23) Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Indiana
Illinois 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Northwestern
Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Temple
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Syracuse 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Louisiana 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Troy
Utah 11/29/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Idaho 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Appalachian St
Wyoming 11/29/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico
New Mexico St 11/29/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
UAB 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:30 PM
USC
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Maryland
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Diego St
Tennessee 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Kansas 11/29/14 3:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Memphis
BYU 11/29/14 3:30 PM
California
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Fresno State
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Duke
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Miami-Florida
(15) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
Oregon State
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Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
UNLV
UCF 12/4/14 6:30 PM
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Hamilton 11/30/14 5:00 PM
Calgary
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Clemson 77 FINAL
Ohio State 86
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San Diego State 68
East Carolina 58 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 69
Santa Clara 0 Cancelled
Texas-El Paso 0
Florida State 68 FINAL
Washington 80
Wichita State 39 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 56
Wisconsin 44 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 67
Kansas State 0 Cancelled
LSU 0
BYU 73 FINAL
BYU-Hawaii 52
Charlotte 58 FINAL
Montana 67
Illinois 77 FINAL
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Richmond
Oklahoma 7:15 PM
South Florida
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Wake Forest
(19) Oregon State 8:00 PM
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pmX30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 amX24-17
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 amX39-38
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 amX28-24
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa 11 amX51-14
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State 11 amX31-24
Nov 22 - at Nebraska 11 amX28-24
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin 2:30 pm

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