Michigan this. Michigan that. It’s trendy to go with the Wolverines as this year’s Big Ten Champion for two reasons. First, Ohio State only returns a total of six starters and they lost Braxton Miller, Ezekiel Elliott, Cardale Jones, Joey Bosa and Darron Lee, among others. Second, Michigan State will annually be the recipient of DISREPEKT so no one takes them seriously until they’re in your rear view mirror. I’m picking Ohio State to once again win the Big Ten for one simple reason:
The king stays the king until someone can knock him off. Yeah, it’s great that Michigan returns nine guys on offense. They also need to replace the most important player on the field and travel to Columbus to finish the season. The day that Michigan can actually start beating Ohio State again is the day that they’ll be considered the favorite in the conference. So until that day.
With Ohio State winning the East and ultimately the Big Ten, they’ll make it back to the CFB Playoff to face Big 12 Champion Oklahoma. The Sooners return Baker Mayfield, Samaje Perine and have a great home schedule. Considering how they deal with expectations they’re actually more likely to finish 8-4.
Is this the year that LSU finally turns the corner and Miles puts the Tigers back in Title contention? Similar to Michigan, they bring back an absurd amount of starters and get Alabama at home in the first week of November. So why would I apply the double standard to Michigan but not LSU? Because one simply cannot stand to yet again see Alabama in the Playoff. If we keep on telling ourselves it might happen! But probably not.
Clemson rounds out the Playoff as the champion of the ACC. Florida State is a potential challenger but it’s going to be difficult to bet against Deshaun Watson in 2016.
Despite not winning the Big Ten, the Wolverines will still have the second-best record in the conference and will be selected for the Rose Bowl. They’ll face UCLA, the survivor of the Pac-12, which will be a knife fight in a telephone booth.
Iowa, the Big Ten runner-up, will face Arkansas in the Citrus Bowl, a game that Hawkeye fans have been pining for since Bret Bielema sold his soul and started dressing like the Western Kentucky Hilltopper. The Razorbacks finished last season by winning six of their final seven games, including a rout of Kansas State in the Liberty Bowl. Quite the accomplishment considering they’d previously lost to Toledo and Texas Tech earlier in the season.
Minnesota will have a fine season, going 9-3 and Nebraska will bounce back to 8-4, as Mike Riley cannot contractually go a season without losing at least four games. Michigan State, Penn State, and Northwestern will also have solid seasons, winning at least eight games each. Wisconsin will start out 2-5 but somehow manage to finish 6-6 because lol they can’t lose to Minnesota come on.
Yes, Indiana will make another bowl despite giving up an average of 40 points per game.
Illinois will have a decent start of the season, going 3-3 and people will start to think the Lovie Smith experience might not be so bad. They’ll finish 3-9 with a blowout win over Purdue, a game that will ultimately get Darrell Hazell fired.
Maryland and Rutgers will play college football in the Big Ten.
- Four teams are chosen for the College Football Playoff.
- Six bowls rotate for the semifinals: Rose, Sugar, Cotton, Fiesta, Orange, and Peach.
- The bowls hosting the semifinals this year are the Fiesta Bowl and Peach Bowl.
- As the Rose Bowl is not hosting a semi-final, it will select the Big Ten Champion. However, if the Big Ten Champion is a playoff team, the Rose Bowl will select a Big Ten replacement.
- The highest ranked champion from the Group of Five mid-majors (AAC, C-USA, MAC, MWC, Sun Belt) is guaranteed a spot in the non-playoff bowls if they fail to make the playoff.
- The Big Ten has a six-year contract with the eight non-playoff bowl games (aside from the Pinstripe, which is an eight-year contract). Per the terms of that contract, the bowls are to select at least five different Big Ten schools over six years.
- The non-playoff bowl games are informally broken down into three tiers. Tier 1: Holiday, Citrus and Outback. Tier 2: Pinstripe, Music City/TaxSlayer and Foster Farms. Tier 3: Quick Lane and Heart of Dallas/Armed Forces.
College Football Playoffs:
|Championship||Tampa, FL||1/9/17||Semi Winner v. Semi Winner||Clemson v. Oklahoma|
|Peach||Atlanta, GA||12/31/16||CFP v. CFP||Ohio State v. Oklahoma|
|Fiesta||Glendale, AZ||12/31/16||CFP v. CFP||Clemson v. LSU|
New Year's Bowls (Non-Playoff Bowls):
|Sugar||New Orleans, LA||1/2/17||Big 12 v. SEC||Oklahoma State v. Alabama|
|Cotton||Arlington, TX||1/2/17||At-Large v. At-Large||Houston v. Stanford|
|Rose||Pasadena, CA||1/2/17||Big 10 v. Pac-12||Michigan v. UCLA|
|Orange||Miami Gardens, FL||12/30/16||ACC v. Big Ten/SEC/Notre Dame (ND)||Florida State v. Notre Dame|
Big Ten Bowls:
|Rose Bowl||Pasadena, CA||1/2/17||Pac-12||IA, MSU, UW||Michigan v. UCLA|
|Outback Bowl||Tampa, FL||1/2/17||SEC||NW, UW, IA||Michigan State v. Tennessee|
|Citrus Bowl||Orlando, FL||12/31/16||SEC||UM, MN, UW||Iowa v. Arkansas|
|TaxSlayer or Music City Bowl*||Jacksonville, FL or Nashville, TN||12/31/16 or 12/30/16||SEC||PSU, IA, NU**||Nebraska v. Auburn|
|Foster Farms Bowl||San Francisco, CA||12/28/16||Pac-12||NU, MD, IL||Minnesota v. Wazzou|
|Pinstripe Bowl||New York City, NY||12/28/16||ACC/ND||IU, PSU, RU||Northwestern v. Pitt|
|Holiday Bowl||San Diego, CA||12/27/16||Pac-12||UW, NU||Penn State v. Utah|
|Heart of Dallas Bowl||Dallas, TX||12/27/16||C-USA||IL, PU, PSU||Wisconsin v. Louisiana Tech|
|Quick Lane Bowl||Detroit, MI||12/26/16||ACC/ND||MN, RU||Indiana v. NC State|
* - Over the six-year agreement the Big Ten and ACC must appear in three Music City and three TaxSlayer Bowls.
** - Last 5 refers to appearances in the TaxSlayer Bowl.
If I'm going it wrong, tell me why in the comments.