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If you wrote a nasty column about the B1G last week, you can probably cut and paste it, change a few team names, and run it by edit without them even thinking twice about it being recycled.
On a weekend when the college football schedule was brutally underwhelming, the B1G followed up last weekend’s debacle by trying to one-up itself, almost assuredly putting it on the outside looking in when the CFB Playoff decides which conference ends up on the outside looking in.
Michigan State … which exists really as the B1G’s best and only hope of making the playoff … won’t be getting perception help from its in-conference brethren.
First, the upside:
Okay, now, the rest: Illinois met Washington in the The Unimpressive to this Point Bowl. The Huskies drew and quartered the Illini, handing them their first loss. UW looked better than it has at any point in the season to this juncture. Washington was much better than it was in wins over 2013’s 1-11 Hawaii team and FCS Eastern Washington, which scored 52 on them.
Illinois got a smooth 19.
Then you move on to other non-contender B1G teams, but still the types of teams that help bolster the whole “conference strength” thing.
Indiana lost late to Bowling Green, again giving up 40-plus points and again seeing its defense become a sieve when the Hoosiers just needed something simply competent to get by. That loss came against the same Bowling Green team which got destroyed by Western Kentucky two weeks ago.
Maryland, one of the new entrants into B1G suffrage, watched West Virginia do its best to toot away the game on the Terps’ home field. Having the Mountaineers pinned deep on third and eight, Maryland called a timeout with confidence that it’d be getting it back.
Only it wouldn’t. The Terps would give up that third down and then lose on a last-second field goal. Yikes.
Then you have Iowa, which has made a habit of winning games it should win going in and then two hours later, should definitely lose. The Hawkeyes lost the Cy-Hawk Trophy to in-state rival Iowa State, which was 0-2 coming in, and 0-1 against FCS competition.
To add insult to the loss … it came on a botched “freeze the kicker” ordeal, where Kirk Ferentz called a timeout as ISU would miss a field goal only to see it go through when it actually counted.
Also from the files of the mediocre but unbeaten, Minnesota got destroyed by Texas Christian of the “Big 12 with only 10.”
Even from an ancillary standpoint, the conference lost. Virginia Tech, which rolled into Ohio State and came out with a win, announcing its “return” to the college football elite, went home and got kicked in the shins by East Carolina.
At least Northwestern didn’t lose? (hint: the Wildcats were off).
Conference bragging rights are an odd thing to begin with. On one side, the general lack of success for the conference should make fans happy that their team, no matter how sordid it may seem, should have a puncher’s chance to make noise from late September through November.
That’s the way things uses to be, the good ole days when you rooted against your rivals because … well, they’re you’re rivals … and didn’t need to worry about the perception of teams not related to you to prove your own strength.
But this is where college football is. “Okay, but how hot are her friends?”
There’s an idiocy in the entire thought process, but that doesn’t mean it’s changing any time soon. Idiocy and college football are like peanut butter and jelly.
The CFB Playoff will be under the gun to look all inclusive, so don’t look for any conference, regardless of perceived strength, to double up in year one. It’s going to be 5 spots for 4 conference champions (unless something chaotic happens with a mid-major and all the stars align just right).
Right now, it would appear that save a Michigan State run of the table, we already know the four conferences that will find a way to be represented. And it’s not the one whose best win three weeks into the season is over Washington State.