BY THE NUMBERS
Big Ten teams in the latest College Football Playoff rankings Top 25
Total combined losses suffered by those teams in 2015
Total combined losses incurred by those against teams not ranked in the CFP Top 25
Amount of games Penn State DE Carl Nassib has recorded a sack this season
Amount of INTs Iowa DB Desmond King has posted this season to lead the nation
Amount of tackles Illinois senior Clayton Fejedelem has made this season to lead all DBs in the country
Big Ten teams (Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Iowa) that rank among the nation’s Top 10 defenses in fewest points allowed
Big Ten teams (Ohio State, Michigan State and Wisconsin) that began the season ranked in the national polls
Psssst. Got something for ya.
But ya gotta keep it on the down low. No one can know, but us. It has to remain a secret. You ready? You sure? OK, here it is …
The Big Ten is the best conference in college football this season. Yep, it is.
Shush. Keep quiet. No shrieking. No yelling. No laughing. No talking about it whatsoever. No one needs to know. No one wants to know. Apparently even members of the Big Ten.
Not for nothing, but after all the bitching and moaning about the attention given to the Southeastern Conference and it being anointed the greatest thing in Gridiron World this side of Sundays, oh, the better part of the last two decades, you’d kinda figure that circuit’s primary underling would be primping a bit and puffing out its collective chest.
There are years when the Big Ten has sucked and we’ve heard more bravado, albeit totally unfounded and false, than now. Geez, nary a noise emanates anywhere from Columbus, Ohio, to Ames, Iowa, about what has been going on this fall.
Frankly, it’s hard to decipher whether that is refreshing or funny, and we don’t mean “ha ha” funny, but rather odd or weird funny.
Now 10 weeks into the current campaign, the Big Ten stands head and shoulders above the college crowd, having a whopping six members meet not only the Top-25 specs desired by the national polls, but those determining the playoff rankings. The SEC? Well, it checks in with four, along with a fellow power-5 broker, the Big 12, and a rabble-rousing outlier, the American Athletic.
If that ain’t a kick in the shorts to the SEC (not to mention the ACC and Pac-12) …
Only, the Big Ten, be it players, coaches, students, administrators, alumni, fans in general … doesn’t seem all that much in a hurry to deliver it.
On Tuesday night, the CFP rankings confirmed what we already knew – that the Big Ten blows away the rest of the field. Not only do those rankings have defending national champ Ohio State nicely positioned at the No. 3 spot for the four-team extravaganza at this point, they have unlikely unbeaten Iowa at No. 5, just waiting to pounce should any of the others above it – No. 1 Clemson, No. 2 Alabama or No. 4 Notre Dame – happen to fall.
It’s downright bizarre because Iowa, despite being as efficient and balanced as teams come with a solid offense (averages 207 passing yards, 205 rushing yards, 32 points per game) and stingy defense (allows 16.6 points per game, eighth-best in the country), isn’t exactly what you’d call “pass the eye test” material.
Heck, there aren’t just other teams sporting spotless records, namely Baylor (No. 6 in the CFP rankings) and Oklahoma State (No. 8) of the Big 12, that have looked better to much better than the Hawkeyes this season, but several one-loss squads, too, such as Stanford, Louisiana State and Utah.
Umm, even conference rivals Michigan State (one loss) and Michigan (two) have as well, especially since those teams also factor into the CFP rankings Top 25, at Nos. 13 and 14, as do Northwestern (No. 18) and Wisconsin (No. 25), both of whom fell victim earlier this season to Iowa.
Then again, that only speaks to the strength of the conference. So, too, does the fact that another Big Ten outfit, Penn State, behind sack-crazy defensive end Carl Nassib, is 7-3, with its losses only coming against teams in that top 25: Ohio State, Northwestern and Temple of the AAC.
Of course, what happens to the circuit’s cachet if the big, bad Buckeyes get upset by conference middling Illinois this Saturday?
- Jack Kerwin | firstname.lastname@example.org