As Ohio State goes, so goes the Big Ten—at least that’s the way it has been in terms of national perception over the last two decades or so. Yet the reality of the situation on the ground shows that the Big Ten is actually made up of parts that aren’t wholly Scarlet and Gray.
You wouldn’t know it by the preseason predictions of the polled Big Ten media, who picked Ohio State to win the 2014 Big Ten title in overwhelming fashion. OSU was the favorite to win the conference with 19 of the 29 available votes. That’s a full 65 percent of the vote, in case you weren’t doing the math at home.
However, in the wake of Tuesday’s official news that Buckeyes star quarterback Braxton Miller suffered a season ending shoulder injury it leaves the state of the Big Ten championship race in limbo.
Everyone thought they had it all figured out, Ohio State would roll through the season on the back of a strong defensive line, Braxton Miller’s competitiveness at quarterback and a lot of intriguing talent around the rest of the program.
Now with Miller out of the picture, that seems less likely, and so does the possibility for the Big Ten to become a participant in the inaugural College Football Playoff. That’s a problem for a league that is admittedly struggling to regain a foothold in the public perception arena.
Yet, all hope shouldn’t be lost in Big Ten country. After all, one could look to the likes of Michigan State, Wisconsin and Nebraska as easy banner carriers for the Big Ten. A look at all three teams suggests they have the potential makeup to be participants
What makeup would be needed to get in to the four-team playoff on New Year’s Day 2015? We could start with strength of schedule, add in a dash of an undefeated conference seasons for division winners and garnish it with a team that ends the year 13-0 after a conference championship.
Those are all characteristics that Michigan State, Nebraska, Ohio State and Wisconsin seem to have going for them. Yet, which one should the Big Ten be rooting for?
Let’s examine the candidacy for each of those four teams, shall we?