Buy or Sell: Big Ten's CFP hopes, Heisman talk & more

Buy or Sell: Big Ten's CFP hopes, Heisman talk & more

That was an exciting Week 11, wasn’t it? Five of the top 9 teams in the College Football Playoff rankings lost, including Iowa stunning then-No. 3 Michigan.

There’s only two weeks remaining, believe it or not, and here’s what I’m buying and selling as we head into Week 12.

Michigan’s playoff hopes?
Buy. Yes, the stunning 14-13 loss at unranked Iowa stings. It was the Wolverines’ first defeat of the season. But Michigan still is in control of its destiny. If the Wolverines win out, taking down visiting Indiana this week and then winning at Ohio State, they will win the East and play for the Big Ten title. Win the conference championship, and 12-1 Michigan figures to be a cinch to earn a playoff slot. See, life isn’t so bad. No need to weep for Jimmy Ballgame and his Woody Hayes glasses.

Ohio State’s playoff hopes?
Sell. The Buckeyes’ playoff dream took a hit with Michigan’s defeat at Iowa on Saturday night. Now, if Ohio State and Penn State both win out, the Nittany Lions will advance to Indianapolis to play for the Big Ten title. Why? Because Penn State beat the Buckeyes earlier this season, giving the Nittany Lions the head-to-head tiebreaker over OSU. But Ohio State still has some hope to perhaps reach the playoff if it closes with an 11-1 mark. Still, not having a conference title will hurt the Buckeyes’ resume, as that is a criterion that the playoff committee values a lot. Ohio State has to hope that Penn State loses one of its last two games: at Rutgers and vs. Michigan State, in addition to winning its last two games. If that happens, Ohio State would win the East. Otherwise, the Buckeyes must cling to faint hope of earning a playoff slot without even winning its own division.

Penn State’s playoff hopes?
Buy. The Nittany Lions have a shot. Penn State needs to win out at Rutgers and vs. Michigan State. And it needs Michigan to lose one more game, which it could when it finishes the season at Ohio State. If all of that happens—not a long shot—Penn State will win the East championship and play for the Big Ten title. Win in Indianapolis, and the Nittany Lions would be 11-2 and likely playoff bound.

Jabrill Peppers’ Heisman hopes?
Sell. I just don’t see it happening. He had a grand stage to impress voters on Saturday night at Iowa. But Peppers did nothing to wow … or save the day for the Wolverines. He ran four times for 11 yards and had five tackles. Those are hardly Heisman-enhancing numbers. On the year, Peppers has rushed 21 times for 161 yards (7.7 ypc) with two TDs; two receptions for three yards; 16 punt returns for 276 yards (17.2 ypr) with a TD; eight kickoff returns for 198 yards (24.8 ypr); 59 tackles, 14 TFLs and four sacks. Add it all up, and it’s not Heisman-worthy.

Big Ten’s chances to get two playoff teams?
Sell. Look, it could happen. But, it’s a long shot. You have to think the conference champ will earn a playoff slot—even if it’s a two-loss team like Wisconsin or Penn State. Could one-loss Ohio State make it? Maybe. But it will depend on what happens in other leagues—and with other strong one-loss clubs. Know this: The College Football Playoff committee values conference championships. So, it’s gonna take a lot for a one-loss non-league champion to snag one of the four playoff bids. Again, the Big Ten champ figures to get one slot. Same goes for the SEC champ. And if one-loss Clemson wins the ACC, you have to think it would grab a third spot. Could a one-loss Pac-12 champ Washington get a playoff spot? What about a two-loss Big 12 champ Oklahoma or a one-loss Big 12 West Virginia?

Penn State’s James Franklin should be the Big Ten Coach of the Year?
Buy. You can good cases for Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh, Wisconsin’s Paul Chryst, Ohio State’s Urban Meyer and Nebraska’s Mike Riley. But I think Franklin is positioning himself well to win the honor. No one envisioned the Nittany Lions being in the thick of the Big Ten East race with two weeks left in the season. But, here are Franklin’s Lions. And Penn State is doing it with a new offensive coordinator in Joe Moorhead, who has installed a new offense with a new quarterback behind an offensive line that remains a work in progress but continues to overachieve under new line coach Matt Limegrover. PSU can win the East if it wins out and Michigan loses one of its final two games. Pretty impressive for a coach who went 14-12 overall and 6-10 in the Big Ten his first two seasons in State College, Pennsylvania.

Curtis Samuel’s Big Ten MVP possibilities?
Buy. The Ohio State jack-of-all-trades needs to start getting more love. He’s the ultimate weapon, the only player in the nation with over 600 yards receiving and 600 yards rushing. Samuel arguably is the most exciting Buckeye since Ted Ginn Jr. He is No. 2 in the Big Ten in receiving yards per game, averaging 75.0 with 57 receptions for 750 yards with six TDs. He has 80 carries for 637 yards with seven TDs. The 5-11, 197-pound junior is a special player who has helped the Buckeyes win the last two games by 62-3 scores. Hmmm. After typing all of that, maybe Samuel should be in the Heisman hunt.

Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer

About Tom Dienhart: BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, and send him questions to his weekly mailbag.

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