The Big Ten canceled its 2020 season over the summer, then backtracked in September, starting later than the SEC, ACC and Big 12. The late start meant it didn't have any flexibility in the schedule to postpone games and move things around.
As a result, some of the league's top contenders have missed games and are in danger of not being eligible for the Big Ten Championship Game.
The Big Ten set a minimum of six games being played for a team to participate in the conference title game. That's based on each team playing an average of five games. So far, the top team in the conference, Ohio State, has missed two games. The No. 3 Buckeyes are 4-0 with two games left on the schedule.
They had a COVID-19 outbreak late last week that resulted in their game at Illinois being canceled. Head coach Ryan Day tested positive first during the week, and the Buckeyes were prepared to play with a fill-in coach.
But on Friday, they had multiple players and staff members test positive, and the game was called off.
This week Ohio State is favored by 23.5 points at Michigan State, and it is scheduled to finish the regular season Dec. 12 at home against Michigan. If either of those games get canceled, then the Buckeyes' spot in the conference title game could be in peril.
Since beating Indiana (5-1) on Nov. 22, the Buckeyes have been -1000 favorites to win the Big Ten. After their cancellation last week, the odds plummeted for Indiana falling from +5500 to +3500 as the Hoosiers would be in line to take the Buckeyes' place as East champions. The Buckeyes national championship odds also changed from +250 to +450.
Meanwhile, in the West division, No. 8 Northwestern (5-1) suffered its first loss of the season at 2-3 Michigan State, and No. 16 Wisconsin (2-1) had its third game canceled. The Wildcats beat the Badgers and have the tiebreaker against Iowa (4-2) as well.
Pac-12 Takes Hit
The slim chances that the Pac-12 had of getting a team back into the College Football Playoff took a big hit late Friday night when No. 15 Oregon lost at Oregon State 41-38. It was always going to be tough for the conference to get its champion into the playoff as it is playing fewer games than the other Power 5 conferences.
Oregon and No. 17 USC were the only chances, and they needed to face each other, unbeaten, in the Pac-12 Championship Game.
SEC Contenders Roll On
The top three teams in the SEC won big on Saturday as No. 1 Alabama beat No. 22 Auburn 42-13, No. 5 Texas A&M beat LSU 20-7, and No. 6 Florida beat Kentucky 34-10.
In the Alabama win, the Crimson Tide (8-0) played without coach Nick Saban (COVID-19), but quarterback Mac Jones threw for 302 yards and five touchdowns. Florida (7-1) welcomed tight end Kyle Pitts back from a concussion, and he hauled in all three of Heisman contender Kyle Trask's three touchdown passes.