The Big Ten reestablished itself as one of the best conferences in college football over the last few years with strong campaigns in the 2016 and 2017 seasons. Four teams finished in the top 10 in 2016 and five in the top 17 in 2017. However, this season has been a disappointment. Five teams were ranked in the top 14, including an overrated Wisconsin from an extremely weak Big Ten West at #4 ahead of Ohio State in the stronger Big Ten East. Now, as Week 9 approaches, only one of those teams is ranked in the top 10. That one team is a surprisingly strong Michigan.
Michigan has only one loss this year, and that was to Notre Dame, who is currently undefeated and ranked as the third best team in the country. The #5 Wolverines are now, most likely, the Big Ten’s last hope to be represented in this year’s College Football Playoff after #2 Ohio State was blown out by an unranked Purdue and dropped to #11. Michigan faces two ranked opponents in their final four games, a struggling and shaky Penn State at home and the #11 Buckeyes in Columbus. They should take care of the #17 Nittany Lions, as well as the always terrible Rutgers and a .500 Indiana. Their only challenge should be “The Game” in Columbus, and they absolutely have to win it because the CFP committee hasn’t put a two-loss team in the top 14 yet. The saying is that “defense travels” and, boy, do the Wolverines have a good defense.* It will give them a good shot at winning their final game.
*Michigan State was held to 94 total yards last week. NINETY FOUR!!!! That’s not a typo.