Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, November 1, 2016


The first College Football Playoff Poll is out and, the Big Ten is flexing its muscle, as the conference has five teams in the inaugural poll:

  • No. 3 Michigan
  • No. 6 Ohio State
  • No. 8 Wisconsin
  • No. 10 Nebraska
  • No. 12 Penn State

Long story short, the Big Ten champ figures to claim one of four playoff spots. Could the league get two? Hmmm.

Michigan will have a few chances to enhance its resume in November, beginning with a game at Iowa. Michigan has just one win over a team that was ranked at the time: the now-No. 8 Wisconsin Badgers. The Wolverines also, of course, finish the season playing at Ohio State, which figures to carry a lofty ranking into a contest known simply as ?The Game.?

Win out, and the Wolverines seem assured of a playoff spot for the first time.

Ohio State has two resume-building tilts left: This week vs. Nebraska and in the finale vs. Michigan. OSU has beaten two ranked teams: No. 14 Oklahoma and No. 8 Wisconsin. Like the Wolverines, if the Buckeyes win out, they look to be in the playoff for a second time in three years after winning it all in 2014.

Keep an eye on Wisconsin. The Badgers already have three wins over AP Top 10 teams-No. 5 LSU, No. 8 Michigan State and No. 7 Nebraska. And Wisconsin?s losses are high-quality: No. 4 Michigan and No. 2 Ohio State.

The Badgers don?t figure to get much juice from the rest of their schedule, save for a game vs. Nebraska.

However, playing Northwestern and Minnesota also will be tough. I also think the Badgers control their destiny, like Michigan and Ohio State. Yes, Wisconsin has two losses. But if it wins the Big Ten having played the toughest schedule in America, how can UW be kept out of the playoff party?

Nebraska sits on top in the Big Ten West, but its resume lacks pizzazz. The best win? At Northwestern, which the Huskers caught at the right time in the Big Ten opener when the Wildcats were 1-2. But Nebraska can impress the committee down the stretch by winning at Ohio State and at Iowa.

Penn State still has Big Ten East title dreams as it brings a four-game winning streak into the weekend with a good chance to finish 10-2. The big win? Over No. 2 Ohio State. But the Nittany Lions will need a lot of help-namely Michigan losing twice, as the then No. 4 Wolverines dumped Penn State in September.

That non-con loss to Pitt really stings.

See the full poll below.

Playoff Selection Committee Poll
Rankings as of 11/1/2016
Rank School Prev
1 Alabama (8-0) NR
2 Clemson (8-0) NR
3 Michigan (8-0) NR
4 Texas A&M (7-1) NR
5 Washington (8-0) NR
6 Ohio State (7-1) NR
7 Louisville (7-1) NR
8 Wisconsin (6-2) NR
9 Auburn (6-2) NR
10 Nebraska (7-1) NR
11 Florida (6-1) NR
12 Penn State (6-2) NR
13 LSU (5-2) NR
14 Oklahoma (6-2) NR
15 Colorado (6-2) NR
16 Utah (7-2) NR
17 Baylor (6-1) NR
18 Oklahoma State (6-2) NR
19 Virginia Tech (6-2) NR
20 West Virginia (6-1) NR
21 North Carolina (6-2) NR
22 Florida State (5-3) NR
23 Western Michigan (8-0) NR
24 Boise State (7-1) NR
25 Washington State (6-2) NR