Could Two Big Ten Teams Make the College Football Playoff?


Ohio State might not be the only team from the Big Ten dancing in the College Football Playoff this coming season.

Yes, it would take something of a perfect storm for two teams from the Big Ten Conference to make the College Football Playoff.

And, yes, it remains highly unlikely.

Just don’t tell that to the Michigan State Spartans.

Coming into 2015 as the defending champs, the Ohio State Buckeyes field inarguably the nation’s best team.

From top to bottom, there are almost virtually no holes on the Buckeyes’ talented roster. Ohio State is essentially a playoff lock and are heavily favored to win all of the marbles for the second year in a row.

Joining them in the big dance is a mystery at this point, however. Any team from TCU to Clemson could possibly make a run to the playoff.

A sleeper, a deep sleeper mind you, sits within the Buckeyes’ own conference.

If that “new” team from up north plays their cards right, they might just find themselves included on the four-team bracket. No other member of the Big Ten has a chance at qualifying for the playoff quite like the Spartans do.

Fielding another stout squad, Michigan State returns as contenders once again in 2015. Under head coach Mark Dantonio, we shouldn’t have expected anything less.

Heisman candidate quarterback Connor Cook enters his senior year and will be looking to go out with a bang rather than a quiet whimper. He’ll be helped out by a dynamic offense and an offensive line that might be the country’s best.

Pro first-round draft prospect Shilique Calhoun anchors a stacked defensive line that’ll give opposing offenses fits. Behind their front sits what should be an all-around improved defense.

On paper, the Spartans have enough to run the table. Their schedule also features more than enough eye-catching contests to give them that extra boost.

Right out of the gate, they’ll face playoff runner-up Oregon in Week Two at home in the friendly confines of East Lansing. From then on out, all of their toughest games come on the road, of which include fierce in-state rival Michigan and the perpetually troublesome Nebraska Cornerhuskers.

All of this is relatively fine and good for the Spartans, there’s just one little problem: they’ll have to square off in Columbus against the Buckeyes as the season winds down.

Defeating Ohio State is not entirely out of the question for Dantonio’s team, but there’s a reason why the pundits in Vegas love the Buckeyes so much.

Still, there is hope for the Spartans.

Nov 8, 2014; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans quarterback Connor Cook (18) scrambles with the ball during the second quarter against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

If they can make a nice run up until their showdown with Ohio State in Week 12 and stand tall amidst their brutal schedule, then the odds may be in their favor.

Depending on how the rest of the nation’s other leading contenders are doing, Michigan State could potentially lose a close one to the defending champs and be included in the College Football Playoff.

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Playing in the same division within the Big Ten, the Spartans could not contend for the conference title in Indianapolis. So, as long as they remain undefeated outside of their likely loss to Buckeyes, all the green and white would have to do is wait and see how the rest of the country does as the season ultimately ends.

Coming in on the wrong side of a nail-biter to college football’s top team after trudging through a demanding schedule won’t be so easily overlooked by the Selection Committee.

Of course, there still are a lot of “ifs” in this unprecedented situation.

Michigan State will need to stay undefeated until they make the trip down south to Columbus.

If the Spartans don’t walk away from the highly anticipated matchup victorious, they’ll need to be competitive and lose in something that resembles a tight game, unlike last year’s disappointing debacle.

If the stars aline in East Lansing, the Buckeyes could be joined by a familiar face in the College Football Playoff.

After their presumed loss, Sparty will need to finish the season off strong without any more scratches to their already marred record.

And even then, all of this might not be good enough for Michigan State as other teams could simply keep them out.

A late season loss may not be the end of the world for the Spartans. If the stars aline in East Lansing, the Buckeyes could be joined by a familiar face in the College Football Playoff.

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