If things play out as expected in the Big Ten, No. 7 Wisconsin (8-2) and No. 8 Penn State (8-2) will square off in the Big Ten Championship. We’ve yet to see a two-loss team in the College Football Playoff, but could the Badgers or Nittany Lions find themselves in the final four if they win the Big Ten?
“I think they can for a number of reasons,” Big Ten Network analyst Stanley Jackson said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “One, you’ve got a couple of conferences that just are down this year. If you look at the Big 12, you’re going to have a two-loss Oklahoma team that got thumped at home by Ohio State. You watch Washington go down. I think the Huskies could lose another game to Washington State. That would put a two-loss Penn State or Wisconsin in. I think Penn State arguably has the best win of the year so far, knocking off Ohio State. And Wisconsin, they’ve already knocked off three top-10 opponents. Michigan State was top 10 at the time, obviously LSU was top 10 at the time, and then they beat Nebraska.
“I don’t think at the beginning of the year anybody anticipated Wisconsin to only have two losses by a combined 14 points and sitting in the driver’s seat in the Big Ten West,” Jackson continued. “The Big Ten is by far the best conference in college football this year. The (SEC) only has (two teams) in the top 15 (No. 1 Alabama and No. 15 Auburn). So I think you would get a two-loss Big Ten champion in. I think the bigger question is simply this: Do you get two teams in from the Big Ten? Which I think is conceivable.”
If No. 3 Michigan (9-1) beats Indiana and No. 2 Ohio State (9-1), it would face Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship. Michigan beat the Badgers, 14-7, in Ann Arbor on Oct. 1, but Jackson absolutely believes Wisconsin could win the potential rematch.
“I do,” he said. “I don’t think Ohio State or Michigan wants that rematch. Remember: Michigan had the benefit of being at home, and even being at home, the barely got out of that with a seven-point win. I think Wisconsin is getting better on offense right now. You watch Corey Clement now. His last three games he’s had over 100 yards. I think maybe they’ve figured out their quarterback situation. I’m not a fan of playing two, but it seems to work for them. They’re not turning the ball over, they’re getting the big plays, Jazz Peavy has emerged as a weapon on the offensive end, and that defense is exactly the same. That defense is unbelievable. There’s only been one team to score over 24 points in the last two years against them and that was Ohio State – and they had to go to overtime to do it. So I think Michigan or Ohio State doesn’t want to see Wisconsin in the championship game, but they absolutely can beat them. I think it’ll be a good game against two really dominant defenses if Michigan were to figure it out and show up.”