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CFP Rankings: B1G Reaction – What Each Team Needs

The stick of dynamite is close to burning up the fuse with the CFP rankings, and there’s plenty of Big Ten teams still in the mix. There’s a ton of things that can happen over the next couple of weeks with rivalries and championship games, and things can change at a moment’s notice, so stay tuned.

Here’s the latest look at what the Big Ten teams still in contention need in order to get an invitation to the biggest party in college football:

Iowa, Week three CFP ranking – 3
Last Week – 5, Up two

Why the ranking should be higher: The Hawkeyes are just one of two unbeaten teams in the country and the resume is actually not that bad all things considered. There isn’t a win against a top 15 opponent, but winning at Wisconsin and Northwestern is a tall order no matter who you are.
Why the ranking should be lower: See above. Iowa has yet to beat a top ten team and doesn’t have the top-tier athletes that some of the other teams hanging around the cool kids do. In the end, it won’t matter because it’ll likely be playing a top ten team in the Big Ten Championship game.
What needs to happen: Now, more so than ever, all Iowa has to do is win, and it might just need to win the Big Ten Championship game. Losing to Nebraska would knock Iowa down a rung, but it might not matter in the grand scheme of things.


Michigan State, Week three CFP ranking – 5
Last Week – 9, Up four spots

Why the ranking should be higher: Michigan State might have the two best wins in the country with the victories over Michigan and Ohio State, both on the road. It’s only loss came at the end of the game at Nebraska in controversial fashion. The defense is still a beast when the line is controlling things, while the offensive line is getting healthy and playing better.

Why the ranking should be lower: Despite the record and wins over quality opponents, the Spartans haven’t displayed great game control, allowing teams like Purdue and Rutgers to hang around far too long in contests. And how healthy is Connor Cook? The type of game-plan MSU put together against Ohio State will work with the sideways rain that was in Columbus, but it’s unlikely to work in a milder environment against the likes of Alabama and Clemson.
What needs to happen: Just Like Iowa, if the Spartans win out, they too will be in. It’s that simple at this point. They have done enough to put themselves in position to play for really big things.


Ohio State, Week three CFP ranking – 8
Last Week – 3, down five

Why the ranking should be higher: This team still has more talent than anyone in college football and could go off at anytime. The loss to Michigan State was played in some of the worst conditions you can find with a hard-driving rain and blowing wind. The only loss is two a team that’s in position to make the CFP, and by only three points.
Why the ranking should be lower: All the games leading up to last week were basically warm-ups to the rest of the season against unranked teams. With the spotlight finally on, Ohio State looked uncreative, unmotivated, and confused. Yeah the weather sucked, but the Spartans has to play in the same conditions without their starting QB.
What needs to happen: It’s actually not as bad as you think, but the Bucks need two main things to work in their favor to get back in the mix. One is within their control. The first order of business is to be Michigan in Ann Arbor to finish the season with just one regular-season loss. After that, it’s root hard for Penn State to actually beat a team it isn’t supposed to. With a defense in Happy Valley that can control things at times, and the status of Connor Cook still up in the air, it is possible, but still unlikely. The other scenario would include about five ships sinking ahead of them. And, there’s always a flu-epidemic to root for.


MichiganWeek three CFP ranking – 10
Last Week – 12, up two

Why the ranking should be higher: Should it be? Michigan has two losses and has needed far too many narrow escapes recently. The defense that looked so great to start the season has begun to spring leaks, and there is a lack of game-breaking ability on offensive side of the ball.
Why the ranking should be lower: See above. Despite the less than stellar last few weeks, the Wolverines keep finding a way to win and still have a shot to get back into the conversation if things break just right.
What needs to happen: Michigan sits in almost the same identical spot as Ohio State. If it can take care of business against the Buckeyes on Saturday and hope with all hopes that the Penn State finds a way to beat back Sparty, then it’s off to Indy. A Big Ten title would significantly bolster the Wolverines’ chances.


Phil Harrison is a frequent contributor to He is also a the founder of and featured contributor to and occasionally You can follow him on twitter @PhilHarrisonCFB or email him at If that doesn’t work, you can find him in the doghouse at home.

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