Michigan is hosting Michigan State and Ohio State is traveling to Indiana Saturday to decide the Big Ten Universities’ East Division. The Spartans, Wolverines, Hoosiers and Buckeyes all still have a shot at making the playoffs.
There are multiple scenarios that could unfold and include and/or exclude all four teams from the postseason, with bonus points and tie breakers possibly coming into play, but here are the easiest roads to the BTU playoffs, which feature the top two teams in the East crossing over against the top two teams in the West, for each East team:
Indiana – beat Ohio State
Ohio State – beat Indiana
Michigan State – beat Michigan and have Indiana win
Michigan – bonus point in a win over MSU, hold MSU to one bonus point or less and have OSU lose without scoring a bonus point.
The complete BTU standings can be found here.
Both East games are rematches. Indiana won the first game against Ohio State 39-30 Sept. 29 in Columbus, Ohio, and Michigan State won the first meeting with Michigan 36-17 Sept. 22 in East Lansing, Mich.
The Spartans have been criticized for having a narrow pitch, and seeing as they’re undefeated at home and their only road win came against division dweller Purdue, the complaint could hold water. If it does, a fuller field in Ann Arbor could favor the Wolverines.
Ohio State makes the trip to Bloomington, Ind. tonight in preparation for the biggest game of its very young BTU history. The Buckeyes will be playing this weekend without the services of centers Nevin Heard and Jeff Chatfield, who are out with broken appendages. This will be Ohio State’s second game without the midfield duo, so their replacements have gained some experience.
Plaguing Ohio State this season is a lack of size. The Buckeye pack is much smaller than it traditionally has been, so playing fast has been an emphasis. In the first meeting with Indiana, the Buckeyes weren’t fast or aggressive enough defensively, especially in the backline, but being better there has been a focus for Ohio State in practice this week.
In the West, Wisconsin has already wrapped up the division title, and only Iowa and Illinois have a shot at second. They play Saturday in Champagne, with the winner moving onto the BTU semifinals.