Every Sunday after the Big Ten slate of games, I will be bringing you some B1G thoughts on everything that happened! This will include analysis, stats, key players, moments and maybe a joke or two. Be sure to check out the I-70 Football Show in the Land-Grant Holy Land podcast feed for more in-depth analysis and to preview the next week of B1G games.
Michigan rolls Iowa
Michigan took care of business against Iowa defeating them 42-3 in the Big Ten championship game. This was Michigan’s first Big Ten title since 2004 when they shared the title with Iowa. This was Michigan’s first appearance in the Big Ten Championship game, but you would never know it by the way they played in Indianapolis. Michigan came into the game as a favorite, but Iowa was overmatched from the first kick off. The Wolverines came into the game with a great game plan scoring 14 points early while utilizing trick plays, motion and outside runs to make Iowa uncomfortable.
Iowa was able to keep it relatively close in the first half with a halftime score of 14-3 but once the third quarter starts Michigan started pouring it on. Josh Gattis and Mike MacDonald coached a near perfect game and star players Hassan Haskins, Aidan Hutchinson, David Ojabo, and Dax Hill all shined in the game’s biggest moments. After beating Ohio State and winning the Big Ten, Jim Harbaugh is playing with house money, but his squad will be ready and hoping to upset the Georgia Bulldogs in the playoffs.
Big Ten East dominance
Since the Big Ten separated itself into East and West divisions the Big Ten East is 8-0 in Big Ten Championship game. That reign of dominance doesn’t look like it’s going to end anytime soon and it’s pathetic that any team who came out the East would have been favored over their West counterparts. Ohio State is a juggernaut, with Michigan and Michigan State on the rise and Penn State typically steady under James Franklin I fully expect the East to field the best teams in the Big Ten. That is reflected on the field, in the standing, in the records and lastly in what bowl games the teams go to. There is no reason for there to be such a gap between divisions, if only I trusted Kevin Warren to fix it.
Division-less Big Ten
Division-less football is the future and the Big Ten needs to hop on that wave sooner rather than later. Programs such as Penn State and Michigan State deserve a chance to make the Big Ten championship when they have better seasons then their Big Ten West counterparts. Without divisions this season we would have gotten a rematch of The Game which I can promise would be significantly more exciting than what Iowa provided. As discussed, the Big Ten East is 8-0 in championship games.
Michigan State ruined Iowa’s special season, Michigan and Penn State beat Wisconsin, and Ohio State beat Minnesota and Purdue. In most season the top of the East is better than the West and that alone should be reason enough to get rid of divisions. Some of the best Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State teams have been hurt by having to play Ohio State while Wisconsin gets to play Iowa and Northwestern. With a 12-team playoff on the horizon and assuming we believe the alliance will schedule games then a pod system is the future. Let’s hope Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren doesn’t approach the pod system like he has the 12-team playoff, or it may never happen.
Aidan Hutchinson.... No. 1 pick?
Aidan Hutchinson spurned the NFL for a chance to beat Ohio State. Now he’s leading Michigan into the playoffs. The best players show up in the biggest games and Hutchinson has done that all year. With the playoffs as the backdrop, and a weak quarterback class, Hutchinson could play himself into the first pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. The Detroit Lions will have a tough choice to make between Hutchinson and Thibodeaux come April
Hassan Haskins historic day
Michigan’s star running back Hassan Haskins kept up his awesome season with two touchdowns in Saturday’s game. That brings his season total to 20 which broke Michigan’s single season touchdown record. Michigan wouldn’t be in its current position without its star players and like Hutchinson, Haskins is playing his best football in the biggest games. Georgia won’t be an easy opponent but with Haskins playing this well they should at least have a chance.
Head Coach Josh Gattis? or Mike MacDonald?
After a 12-1 season and a playoff berth Michigan may be in line to lose their offensive and defensive coordinators to head coaching jobs. Josh Gattis was one of the hottest names in coaching when he left Alabama to become Michigan’s offensive coordinator. After leaving the Ravens and fixing Michigan’s defense in one season Mike MacDonald could follow the Jeff Hafley path and become a head coach after one season as a defensive coordinator. If either coach wants to become a head coach, it’s always best to strike while the irons hot. The coaching carousel has been crazy enough already, don’t be surprised if one or both coordinators are pulling double duty recruiting for their new job and game planning for Michigan in the next few weeks.
Final College Football Playoff rankings
One could argue that the Big Ten had a poor finish to their season. The conference finished the season with only four teams ranked in the top 25. Yet, one of those teams is in the playoffs and three are in New Year’s Six bowl games so that can’t be too disappointing. The four ranked teams are No. 2 Michigan, No. 6 Ohio State, No. 10 Michigan State and No. 15 Iowa. It’s kind of surprising that 8-4 Wisconsin didn’t sneak in after being ranked for much of the season. A good showing in the bowl games could sneak a few teams in the top 25 at seasons end.
B1G Bowl Games
At seasons end the Big Ten has nine bowl eligible teams. After conference championship games invites have been sent out and the bowl games are as follows:
No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 3 Georgia in the Orange Bowl
No. 6 Ohio State vs. No. 12 Utah in the Rose Bowl
No. 10 Michigan State vs. No. 12 Pittsburgh in the Peach Bowl
No. 15 Iowa vs. No. 22 Kentucky in the Citrus Bowl
Penn State vs. No. 21 Arkansas in the Outback Bowl
Minnesota vs. West Virginia in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl
Maryland vs. Virginia Tech in the Pinstripe Bowl
Wisconsin vs. Arizona State in the Las Vegas Bowl
Purdue vs. Tennessee in the Music City Bowl
Brent Pry to Virginia Tech
Brent Pry, longtime Penn State Defensive Coordinator, has accepted the head coaching job at Virginia Tech. Pry, who has coached with James Franklin since the Vanderbilt days, has been waiting for the perfect opportunity before hopping in the head coaching ranks. Plenty of Big Ten programs, Ohio State included, probably should send Pry a farewell basket thanking him for leaving. Under his watch Penn State has always had a solid to great defense with the potential to strike fear in opposing offenses. Franklin has been hit or miss with offensive coordinator hires so I’ll be paying close attention to who he tabs as his defensive coordinator. This hire will be crucial as Franklin looks to bounce back from back-to-back disappointing seasons.
As the Founder, President, and CEO of the ‘recruit better quarterbacks’ movement’ it was significant when two Big Ten quarterbacks decided to transfer. Current Nebraska and Indiana starters Adrian Martinez and Michael Penix Jr. have put their names in the transfer portal. After multiple disappointing campaigns as the starter on their respective teams both quarterbacks seem to be looking towards greener pastures. Here’s hoping these break-ups are amicable because it’s probably what’s best for each program.
After going 2-10, 0-9 in the Big Ten, Tom Allen’s seat will be heating up going into next season. Scott Frost seat is already on fire, and he took a pay cut and fired his staff in hopes to cool it off. With both coaches needing a winning season to keep their jobs it makes sense to move on from their quarterbacks in hopes that someone else can provide the spark next season. Here’s wishing good luck to Martinez and Penix Jr. in their future endeavors, hopefully in a non-Big Ten conference of course.