Since Ohio State’s season-saving victory two weeks ago at Illinois, there has been a lot of talk about how the Buckeyes’ destiny is back in their own hands.
That’s not exactly true. OSU could win out and still not make it to the inaugural Big Ten Championship Game. The Buckeyes are going to need some help from Illinois, Nebraska or Wisconsin – at least one of those teams will have to beat Penn State.
Here’s what we mean.
Ohio State goes into the Oct. 29 weekend 2½ games behind Big Ten Leaders Division pace-setter Penn State. The Nittany Lions have a perfect conference record of 4-0 with Wisconsin and Purdue a game and half behind at 2-1. Two full games back is Illinois at 2-2 while the Buckeyes are 1-2. Indiana is the division cellar-dweller at 0-4.
Remembering that interdivisional records don’t matter – the title game participants are decided by best overall conference record – the Buckeyes need to win their final five games for a best possible 6-2 finish. Obviously, winning out begins with knocking off Wisconsin tomorrow night, a tall order considering the Badgers are 7½-point favorites.
If OSU can register the upset, that would even the Buckeyes’ conference record at 2-2 while dropping the Badgers to an identical mark.
Before Ohio State and Wisconsin get together tomorrow night, Penn State will host Illinois while Purdue is at Michigan. Since it appears the Fighting Illini are on the verge of collapse after their early season run, we’ll give that victory to the Nittany Lions. Likewise, the Wolverines should rebound in their game against the Boilermakers.
If those games hold true to form, the division standings heading into November should have Penn State at 5-0 with Ohio State, Wisconsin and Purdue tied for second place at 2-2. Illinois would have fallen back to 2-3.
Not much would be decided during the first weekend of November. OSU and Wisconsin have fairly easy games – the Buckeyes host Indiana while Purdue travels to Madison – while both Penn State and Illinois have the week off. Still, victories by the Buckeyes and Badgers would inch them a half-game closer to the Nittany Lions.
Things begin to get interesting on Nov. 12.
Read the rest by clicking on this link: Rea's Day Blog: Oct. 28.