Did the NCAA Throw the Big 10 a Lifeline?
It is no secret that the Confidential finds the Big 10 to be vastly overrated, and even in football as compared to the ACC. It is also no secret that the Big 10 had a dreadful football weekend, with Ohio State and Michigan imploding among other events. Even Jim Delaney came out and said that he was disappointed by the weekend. So how convenient is it that the NCAA got the Big 10 some nice P.R., and perhaps a playoff lifeline, by pardoning Penn State? It is a little too convenient, no?
Although Michigan State remains in the playoff discussion, it is harder to find a way for Ohio State, Michigan, and Wisconsin to overcome their losses. Wins over each other are not going to mean as much. And is anyone truly going to be impressed by Michigan State defeating Michigan, Nebraska or Ohio State in home games? And some are saying that the struggles of the rest of the conference will keep Michigan State from even having a chance to get back into the playoff discussion.
Nebraska has an outside chance. But having struggled to beat McNeese State, it is difficult to pencil them into the playoff picture. Iowa? Another team fortunate to be 2-0. The rest? Good luck. All in all, not looking good for the Big 10.
But what about Penn State? We see Vanderbilt suffering badly without coach James Franklin. We see Penn State at 2-0, with home games against Michigan State and Ohio State remaining, as well as a road game against Michigan. If Penn State was to run the table, now we have a 13-0 Big 10 team. Doesn’t that sound a lot better than a 12-1 Michigan State for playoff purposes? Remember… comparing one loss teams may result in Michigan State falling behind an SEC school… that is a lot harder to do with an undefeated King like Penn State.
So how convenient is it that the Big 10 dropped to unfathomable depths by Saturday night, only to have Penn State provide a reason for hope that the Big 10 can get an undefeated team into the playoffs. Is it likely? No. But it was not likely that Penn State would win so many games the past two years. Never say never. In the meantime, even if Penn State can keep winning games and start entering the discussion, it will give some legitimacy to the conference and perhaps help inflate Michigan State–as they play in the final regular season game. A 10-1 Michigan State defeating an 11-0 Penn State would look pretty good for the Spartans. Not a bad thing that Penn State now has a bowl incentive to keep winning.
The Confidential does not begrudge Penn State having its sanctions removed. It just seems surprising that it happened Monday, rather than in August. If Penn State was 0-2, do you think this would have happened? Heck no.
So… this is all about the NCAA throwing the Big 10 a lifeline when it needed one.