Here we will put Big Ten teams into 4 tiers for their potential on making the College Football Playoff. The tiers will include Already Eliminated, Must Win Out, In Good Shape but need A Signature Win, and Keep on Rolling. Teams can move within the categories until the hit Eliminated.
Already Eliminated From Playoff Contention
Purdue Boilermakers(1-2): With losses at Nevada and home against TCU will but Purdue out off the Playoff even if they were to win out.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights(1-1): With a 30 point loss to Iowa in the books we can safely eliminate the Scarlet Knights as we have seen the big loss to Iowa knock an Ohio State team out of the Playoffs.
Illinois Fighting Illini(2-1): After falling at home to a MAC team in Eastern Michigan there is no coming back from that. Even if they could win out and defeat the three ranked teams left on their schedule the loss to Eastern Michigan wouldn’t be overlooked.
Must Win Out
Northwestern Wildcats(1-1): If the Wildcats win out it would be hard to say that they wouldn’t be in Playoff contention. they would likely have victories over four ranked teams and a conference title. As we saw last season Northwestern is capable of running the table in the conference slate but they do have Ohio State on the crossover schedule this season.
Nebraska Cornhuskers(2-1): Nebraska has all the potential to have a breakout season this year but after suffering a loss to rival Colorado their only hope in reaching the Playoff would be to win out the rest of the season.
Indiana Hoosiers(2-1): I know Indiana lost by 41 points to Ohio State but it is early in the season and they were without their starting quarterback which the selection committee can take that into consideration. Now even if they win out they would need help from Ohio State in order to win the conference so this team is teetering on elimination.
Michigan State Spartans(2-1): Spartan fans will be disappointed to see Michigan State fall into this category but it is hard to comeback from that kind of performance at home. If the offense can get going and Sparty can run through the gauntlet of the East Division they will still be in consideration for the Playoff.
Maryland Terrapins(2-1): After outscoring opponents 142-20 and blowing out a ranked opponent it would be hard to put Maryland in this tier. That was until they laid an egg against Temple and fall out of the top 25. Maryland still has a chance with their schedule to get back into consideration but there is no room for error.
In Good Shape But Need A Signature Win
Minnesota Golden Gophers(3-0): The good news for the Golden Gophers is that they do remain undefeated. The bad news they have yet to put an inferior opponent away convincingly with an average winning margin of just over four points. Minnesota still has three ranked opponents left on the schedule and if they do manage to go 8-1 in conference and win the Big Ten they will have to be considered.
Michigan Wolverines(2-0): Michigan is coming off of two victories in which they didn’t look particularly good and went to 2OT against an upset minded Army squad. The Wolverines have the schedule in which they could still drop a game, win the conference, and find themselves in the College Football Playoff. They have one of the hardest remaining schedules and if they can prove they are up to it they should have no problem.
Penn State Nittany Lions(3-0): Penn State looked great the first two games and then struggled against an undertalented team Pittsburgh. The Nittany Lions are a super young team with a lot to prove and they will have plenty of chances to do so in the East Division. As long as you win the Big Ten with only one loss you have a pretty good chance to make the Playoff.
Wisconsin Badgers(2-0): The Badgers have been one of the most dominant teams early in this season but they have yet to be tested by a Power 5 opponent. That changes this week when Michigan comes into town. The winner of this game will probably move into the next tier while the loser will need to win out.
Keep On Rolling
Iowa Hawkeyes(3-0): Iowa has a signature win in their victory over an Iowa State team that many considered a threat to win the Big 12. With an average margin of victory over 18 points a game and a solid schedule upcoming, the Hawkeyes are sitting pretty good as of right now. With a team that is solid on both sides of the ball and how they have performed so far this season its easy to see that Iowa is a serious contender.
Ohio State Buckeyes(3-0): The Ohio State Buckeyes have been the most explosive and impressive team in the Big Ten through three weeks. They have won their games by a margin of 35 points a game and have the offense and defense to play with anybody in the country. We might not find out much more about this team until 10/26 when Wisconsin visits the Horseshoe but so far Ohio State is the favorite to make the Playoffs for the Big Ten.