When the latest College Football Playoff rankings were announced Tuesday night, there was no shortage of Big Ten teams with numbers next to their names.
The conference sports one team currently in the playoff (No. 3 Michigan), three more in the top 10 (No. 5 Ohio State, No. 7 Wisconsin and No. 10 Penn State), and one more in the Top 25, the quickly falling Nebraska Cornhuskers at No. 19.
Former Ohio State quarterback and current ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit had plenty to say about his former conference during the announcement show, and not all of it good:
On Ohio State missing out on the final playoff spot to unbeaten and No. 4 Washington:
“I think we all agree that Washington and Ohio State both control their own destiny (to get into the top 4 in the final rankings), so is it really worth jumping up and down, getting upset about whether one of them is four or one of them is five? Because if both win out, both are in great shape.”
“If they win, Ohio State is in the playoff,” Herbstreit said later. “They don’t need anybody’s help, they don’t need to get in a debate, they don’t need a subjective world — they’re in if they take care of business the rest of the way. But I’ll say this, Ohio State, when they played Indiana and Wisconsin and Penn State and Northwestern, was a very, very different team than the team that we saw last Saturday against Nebraska.”
On two-loss Wisconsin’s chances of still making the four-team playoff:
“I wanted to see where Wisconsin would be. As I said, if you look at what they have, I’m not saying it’s a foregone conclusion at all but with the Nebraska loss and now with what they have in front of them, they’re going to be pretty heavily favored in the remainder of their games. That puts them potentially in Indianapolis against the winner of the Ohio State-Michigan game. You could make a strong case, even though they’re sitting at seven right now, Wisconsin controls its own destiny to get to the Big Ten championship and then move into the top four if they’re fortunate to win in Indianapolis if they get there.”
On Nebraska, loser of two straight and coming off a 62-3 loss to Ohio State:
“For Nebraska, that was not a very good look … on the road against Ohio State. The two best teams that they have played (Wisconsin and Ohio State), they’ve lost both games. They looked good against Wisconsin, at least competed. Last week was very, very bad. I’m surprised they didn’t drop lower down in the polls for sure.”
No. 4 Washington or No. 5 Ohio State — who’s better?
“If Ohio State plays the way they did in Norman (a 45-24 win over Oklahoma) and plays the way they did last Saturday, Ohio State’s the better team. If Ohio State plays the way they did against Penn State or Wisconsin or Indiana or Northwestern, then Washington’s the better team.
“So what I’m saying about Ohio State is one of the youngest teams in the country, did they learn from those four weeks? Did they learn from what it takes? You’ve heard some of their older players come out and say some of the younger guys had to go through those growing pains … Because they just showed up and blew out Oklahoma and maybe thought it was just going to be that easy.
“If they learned from those four weeks and they use this Nebraska game as a springboard, without question, Ohio State is not only better than Washington, they’re as good as anybody in the country.”