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The B1G Preview: Championship Week Edition

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Normally there would be one game this week. But you know, 2020.

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Northwestern David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Here we are folks, the last Big Ten preview of the season! Rules were adjusted, players quarantined, and after craziness that was the 2020 football season, Northwestern and Ohio State go on to play for a spot in the —well, only Ohio State is playing for a spot at the playoff. After they’re done, we get some other teams playing an extra game in hopes that makes it more appealing for bowl execs. Or, in Penn State’s case, one extra game means one step closer to avoiding a losing season, if results go in their favor.

Nebraska (2-5 Big Ten) at Rutgers (3-5 Big Ten)

7:30 PM Eastern (Friday), BTN
Nebraska -6.5

Rutgers, like Penn State, find themselves needing two wins to finish .500 on the season. God only knows why Nebraska is favored by a touchdown here, but if anything, this will prove to be an interesting game to watch.

Should You Watch? It’s the last week of the season, make some time.
Prediction: Rutgers 28, Nebraska 21

Purdue (6-1) at Indiana (2-4)

Noon Eastern, BTN
Indiana -10

Just kidding Covid!

Big Ten Championship Game: No. 14 Northwestern (6-1) vs No. 4 Ohio State (5-0)

Noon Eastern, Fox
Ohio State -20

You see, this is my personal problem with the way college football looks at competition. We’re so obsessed with who the “best” team is that we literally bend the rules to make sure those we perceive as the best get a chance over those who did all the right things at the right times. We all know Ohio State is the best team in the Big Ten this season. We all know that they probably will score this time around if they face Clemson in the playoff. We all know that Indiana and Northwestern had no business being anywhere near Alabama on January 1st. But boy what fun would it have been if, after how hard Ohio State fought to have the formality of what this season has become, if they couldn’t even make the playoff due to the rules preventing them from doing so.

Sure, in a normal season everyone would have played 12 games and we’d have settled it all on the field, but the fact that not only is Ohio State in the championship game despite rules they agreed to themselves, but they stayed at No. 4 despite several other teams having played more games to date (including two undefeated teams in 8-0 Cincinnati and 11-0 Coastal Carolina), makes it quite clear that we could easily pick four teams at the beginning of the season, and, despite what happens in the actual season, we’d have just about the same group playing in the playoffs. No Giants over Patriots in this league!

Should You Watch? I can’t stop you if you want to watch this massacre.
Prediction: Ohio State 45, Northwestern 20

Minnesota (3-3) at Wisconsin (2-3)

4:00 PM Eastern, BTN
Wisconsin -12.5

Remember when Wisconsin was the undisputed best team in the West, and Graham Mertz was the undisputed best quarterback in the Big Ten after Justin Fields left? Pepperidge Farms remembers.

Should You Watch? It’s the last week of the season, make some time.
Prediction: Minnesota 23, Wisconsin 20

Michigan State (2-5) at Maryland (2-3)

7:30 PM Eastern, BTN
Maryland -2.5

Just kidding Covid!

Michigan (2-4) at No. 16 Iowa (6-2)

7:30 PM Eastern, ABC
Iowa -6.5

Just kidding Covid!

...and of course, our very own.

Penn State (3-5) at Illinois (2-5)

5:30 PM Eastern, FS1
Penn State -15.5

Penn State is on a three-game winning streak, looking to make it four when Illinois comes to town. Were the Lions to win this game and accept a subsequent bowl bid, they could find themselves in a situation where they 1) could win five straight after losing the first five, and 2) avoid a losing season for the first time since 2004.

The Illini just parted ways with Lovie Smith, so Illinois comes into the game coachless. Can Penn State take advantage?

Should You Watch? You’re going to miss this shitshow after it’s over, so take it all in now.
Prediction: Penn State 56, Illinois 17