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Black Saturday for the Big Ten


Before we get to what happened Saturday night, let's take a glance at some second half afternoon scores from around the Big Ten:

Western Kentucky 27, Illinois 21.

McNeese State 24, Nebraska 24.

Penn State 7, Akron 3.

Central Michigan 38, Purdue 17.

Ball State 13, Iowa 3.

South Florida 17, Maryland 14.

Northern Illinois 23, Northwestern 15.

Central Michigan 38, Purdue 17. 

Again, every one of those scores occurred deep into the second half. Except those last two, those are final scores.

It was if the #B1G meme had bled into real life. 

And then there was tonight. Oregon 46, Michigan State 27. Notre Dame 31, Michigan 0. Virginia Tech 35, Ohio State 21. Three nationally televised, prime-time games broadcast on three different networks, and all three ended in double-digit losses. It was the first time the Buckeyes, Wolverines and Spartans all lost on the same day in 26 years.

Declaring the Big Ten eliminated from the College Football Playoff race on September 6 would be foolhardy. No one knows what awaits and how the selection committee will react to those unforeseen events. But it's undeniable that the Big Ten now faces an uphill battle to end its 11-year streak without a national champion and six-year streak without an appearance in the national title game. Both streaks are the longest among Power Five conferences.

If there is an argument to be made for the Big Ten, oddly enough, it's to point at their Rose Bowl partners and point out that Jim Delany's league isn't the only major conference to struggle out of the gate. Washington State has been beaten by Rutgers and Nevada. UCLA has struggled with Virginia and Memphis. Arizona survived UTSA by three. Colorado was pushed around by Colorado State, and beat Massachusetts by three. Washington has beaten Hawaii and Eastern Washington by eight points combined. The conference's second best team - USC - has significant depth issues waiting to rear their head. But then: Ducks 46, Spartans 27. 

It's been a common refrain from the Midwest over the past few years, but much of this truly is unfortunate timing conspiring against the Big Ten. Michigan State would have been in the Playoff had it started in 2013 instead of 2014, and given how Mark Dantonio's Spartans played at the end of last season, they would have acquitted themselves well. 

Michigan State may very well prove to be Playoff material again this season. But given the quality this conference displayed on Saturday, how in the world could you possibly tell?