Careful planning; the health of football players in mind; the Big 10 conference put several rules in place for the 2020 football season.
Some of these rules were, hopefully, never going to be needed, but it seems nearly all of them came into play over the past couple of weeks. The question of whether or not the Big 10 made a mess has a lot to do with some of these rules.
A Minimum Game Requirement
When the Big 10 agreed to start playing football this year, one of the rules that were put in place was that a team would need to play a minimum of six games during the regular season to qualify for the Conference Championship Game. The schedule for every team was to be eight games long, and at the time the schedule was made there was no way to know so many games would be canceled.
Putting Ohio State and Indiana in a Precarious Position
The reason the six-game minimum rule has come under fire is because of an outbreak in the Michigan team has caused the Ohio State/Michigan game to be called off. This along with two other cancellations this year have left Ohio State with only five games played. While they have won all five, Indiana is sitting right behind them with a 6-1 record, having met the minimum requirement.
Should Indiana be Put in the Big 10 Conference Championship Game?
Ohio State beat Indiana head to head. While it was certainly the worst game Ohio State played, they won by a touchdown and now Indiana is without their starting quarterback due to injury. There isn’t another team in the Big 10 East that is as stout as these two schools, but the self-inflicted rule would favor Indiana.
No Non-Conference Games Allowed
As we went into the NCAA football season, some conferences were running conference-only schedules while others were allowing one out of conference game to be on the schedule. The Big 10 set up a conference-only schedule that doesn’t allow for a non-conference game to be played, making it hard to get a game in when Michigan has an outbreak that caused them to cancel the game.
Should Ohio State Play an Out of Conference Game?
In order to meet the six-game minimum should the Big 10 choose to allow Ohio State to play an out of conference game. Should that game be one against a school that’s ranked in the top 25 to give the school a stronger schedule going into the college football playoff rankings? What happens if Ohio State were to lose that game? All these questions loomed large for the Big 10 Athletic Directors.
A Meeting of the Minds
To solve some of these problems created by self-imposed rules, the Big 10 Athletic Directors met virtually to discuss what to do. Ultimately, any decision made was going to create controversy for someone. The decision was made to allow Ohio State to play in the Big 10 Conference Championship Game with only five games played. This certainly upset the players and coaches at Indiana University that wanted a shot at the title.
How Should the College Football Playoff Committee Look at the Big 10?
The Big 10 was one of the last conferences to begin playing football this year. They only scheduled eight games with no leeway for a rescheduled game to take place if needed. Should Ohio State win the conference title game they will only have six games played. Although they will be undefeated, the only quality wins on their schedule will be against Indiana and Northwestern. That’s not the typical strong schedule for a team of this caliber.
Other Considerations for the CFP Committee
Along with the decision of whether to allow a six-win team into the top four, the CFP committee will be faced with an undefeated 8-0 Cincinnati team being left out of the mix. We won’t know more until the conference championship games are played on December 19, but there could be a lot to consider when this date arrives.
The CFP Will Be Faced with the Big 10 Mess
The Big 10 has given us some interesting headlines and a lot to enjoy during the football season. No fault should go to Ohio State for their lack of games, but should six games be looked at the same as eleven? That’s the mess the CFP will be faced with when they look to figure out who the top four teams will be that will play for the national championship.