Every week after the Big Ten slate of games, I will bring you some B1G thoughts on everything that happened! This will include analysis, stats, key players, moments, and maybe a joke. With the Big Ten expanding from 14 teams to 18 teams in 2024 this article will also include the newest members, Oregon, UCLA, USC, and Washington. Check out the I-80 Football Show for more in-depth analysis and to preview the next week of B1G games.
Michigan continues to reign supreme in the Big Ten
Michigan is once again the class of the Big Ten after outlasting Ohio State in a heavyweight showdown. With Jim Harbaugh sidelined for his third-straight game, interim head coach Sherrone Moore led the Wolverines past their biggest rivals by simply believing in his players more.
In the 30-24 win, Moore went 3-for-3 on fourth down, got a big play on a running back pass, and brought in his backup quarterback for a brief QB run package. In key moments, Moore put the ball in the hands of his players and Ryan Day did not. That was the difference. Michigan now gets a playoff warm-up game against Iowa in the Big Ten Championship before getting another shot at winning the national title.
Which means more: 56 wins or 7 losses?
Ryan Day, after a third-straight loss to Michigan, has a career record of 56-7. That is one of the best winning percentages in college football history, but is it full of empty calories?
Ryan Day’s record includes an undefeated mark against every conference foe besides Michigan. He deserves credit for that. Day has not been susceptible to the weird upset that rules college football. The seven losses are tough though when you look at them.
Day is 1-7 against top-five opponents. He is 1-3 in playoff games, with three losses against Michigan and the seventh loss against Oregon in non-conference play. So, is it more important that Day has 56 wins and doesn’t lose games he shouldn’t? Or is it more critical that he has only one win compared to seven losses when he plays the best teams in the sport?
It is not an easy question to answer. Just check Buckeye Nation Twitter where fans are split on whether it’s time to fire Day or if the fanbase standards are too high.
Jonathan Smith, welcome to the Big Ten
After a long season following a shocking scandal that led to the firing of Mel Tucker, Michigan State has a new head coach. Michigan State has announced the hiring of former Oregon State head coach Jonathan Smith. Smith has a career record of 34-35, which is a little deceiving as he turned around a barren program by winning seven, 10, and eight games in the last three seasons.
Smith, unlike Tucker, is a straight-up ball coach who has a proven track record of building a winning program and culture. With more resources and the Big Ten brand, Smith should be able to build a solid program in East Lansing. The Big Ten is expanding to 18 teams and Michigan State is firmly in the middle class, but if Smith can get the Spartans to a playoff appearance every couple of years and the occasional Big Ten championship appearance, they will be more than happy.
Smith has a tough task ahead of him, but he is going to go down as one of the better hires of this cycle.
Tom Allen, here is $15.5 million not to coach!
Indiana has finally decided to move on from head coach Tom Allen. Allen had a couple of solid seasons for the Hoosiers, but the last three seasons have been hard to stomach and it was clear he lost the locker room.
The biggest concern with firing Allen was the buyout, which was over $20 million due to the ill-advised contract extension they gave him after the pandemic season. Allen, who has a great reputation and is well-liked, did Indiana a favor by agreeing to a smaller buyout of $15.5 million split into two payments of $7.75 million. It’s not much of a sacrifice to lose a little over $5 million when you’re getting $15.5, but that money will go a long way towards hiring their new coach and Allen could’ve made them pay the whole thing as stated in his contract.
Allen should be a hot name as a defensive coordinator if he wants to jump right back into coaching, but he has 15.5 million reasons not to rush his decision. Indiana is now in the market for a new coach, with names like former IU defensive coordinator and current South Alabama head coach Kane Wommack being mentioned as potential replacements.
Disappointing finish for three West Division teams
Illinois, Minnesota, and Nebraska all entered rivalry week at 5-6, needing a win over their rival to reach bowl eligibility. All three of them fell short by a combined total of nine points. They all fought hard, but ultimately came up short to end their season.
These three programs are in different places, but they have a few things in common. They all couldn’t overcome an exodus of talent and bad quarterback play. None of the coaches are in danger of losing their jobs entering 2024, but they will need to take a deep look at their roster, starting with the quarterback position, if they want to have any success in the new Big Ten. It’s now or never as the landscape changes.
Someone has to be at the bottom, and they need to turn it around before it’s them.
David Braun the miracle worker
David Braun weathered the storm of the Pat Fitzgerald hazing scandal and led Northwestern to seven wins. That’s the same number of wins as Fitzgerald had in his last three non-pandemic seasons combined. Braun should win the Big Ten Coach of the Year and should be a finalist for the national coach of the year, although that will likely go to Jerry Kill of New Mexico State.
I have no idea how Braun pulled this out, but he’s earned the right to lead the Wildcats full-time and build on this positive momentum. Northwestern would’ve never fired Fitzgerald for football reasons and their problems are far from over, but they lucked into a good coach.
Taulia Tagoviloa, the Big Ten’s newest record-holder
Taulia Tagoviloa has been the starting quarterback for the Maryland Terrapins for the past four seasons. He’s been a top-three quarterback in the conference for the past three. This past Saturday, he became the Big Ten’s all-time leader in passing yards with 11,256. Maryland has reached a bowl game three seasons in a row for the first time since 2006-2008 behind his play.
He will go down as one of if not the best quarterback in school history. This record will probably stand for a long time, as not many prolific passers stick around for four years. Congrats to Taulia, a well deserved record for a good quarterback.
A sad end, here’s to a bright future
The 2023 season is over, We have bowl games remaining, but the regular season is final and it’s a bittersweet end.
College football as a whole changes as soon as this season ends. The Pac-12 will be no more, unless Oregon State and Washington State find a way to keep it alive. The Big Ten moves to 18 teams while the SEC will be a 16-team conference. The College Football Playoff will expand to 12 teams, and you will no longer be able to watch the Big Ten on ESPN.
While I genuinely believe most of these changes are for the better, it’s hard not to get whiplash as the sport changes in the blink of an eye.
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