As the the third year of the College Football Playoffs kicks off, it’s time to take a look at the league who gave us the first Playoffs Champion: The Big Ten. More specifically, we’re going to take a look at the three teams who have the greatest chance of returning that title to the Big Ten: Michigan, Ohio State, and Michigan State, or MOMS.
And yes, I omitted the “S” for Ohio State, but Hottest “MOSMS” wouldn’t have gotten your attention, now would it.
Def. Hawaii 63-3
Although Michigan has the most returning talent of the three MOMS, however, they did lose their one-year starting QB, Jake Rudock. Nonetheless, the Wolverines had a field day against the Rainbow Warriors. New QB Wilton Speight played for just over half the game and still managed to put up 3 TD with one lone INT. On the ground, four RBs had significant carries. Chris Evans lead with 112 yards over just 8 carries and 2 TD. With a total of over 300 rushing yards and over 200 passing yards, the Wolverine offense looks threatening this season.
Defensively, the Wolverines looked better than ever. The Michigan defense held their opponent to only 232 total yards and caught 2 INT. Ultimately, Hawaii converted only 1 third-down and came away with only one FG. Against both passing and running, the Michigan defense revealed no weakness today.
Def. Bowling Green 77-10
Ohio State faced arguably the best opponent in Week 1 against the 2015 MAC Champion Bowling Green. Bowling Green’s success didn’t seem to matter, however, as the Buckeyes put up arguably the most dominant performance of the MOMS.
Ohio State broke a school record with 776 total yards and scored 10 offensive TD. The Buckeyes were incredibly efficient on offense, converting 11-13 third downs and accumulating an astounding 41 first downs. Returning QB JT Barrett had a rough start, throwing amateurish INT at the beginning of the game that led to Bowling Green’s only TD. However, Barrett came back to throw six passing TD and run for one of his own. Questions as to how the Buckeyes would replace star RB Ezekiel Elliot were answered as new starting RB Mike Webber and double-threat Curtis Samuel showed no mercy against Bowling Green. Webber’s 136 yards on the ground were complemented by Samuel’s 84, along with Samuel’s 177 in the air.
On Defense, the Buckeyes were practically flawless. The Bowling Green offense that passed for over 366 yds/game last year was held to just 175 and completed no individual pass over 20 yards. Despite losing 8 defensive starters, the Buckeyes caught 3 INT and allowed only 3-points. One Buckeye INT was returned for a TD, meaning the Ohio State Defense alone outscored the the entire Bowling Green team. Look out BIG10.
Def. Furman 28-13
Of the three hopefuls, Michigan State came the farthest last year and got off to the roughest start this year. After their walloping at the hands of future-Champion Alabama in the Cotton Bowl, Michigan State lost quite a bit of talent to the draft. Key names include like OT Jack Conklin, DE Shilique Calhoun, and most significantly, QB Connor Cook.
Michigan State under-performed Friday night against a sub-par Furman team. New QB Tyler O’Connor looked like a decent game manager, completing 13/18 passes and scoring 3 short TD to only 1 INT. The Spartans won’t wow anyonewith superior passing – they averaged only 234.2 pass yds/game last season. Returning RB LJ Scott looked comfortable averaging 5.3 yds/rush with a total of 105 yards. The team’s total offense is on par with last year’s average of 385.6 yards per game, totaling only 24.6 less against the Paladins.
The Spartan Defense held the Palladins to only under 100 rush yards and under 150 passing yards. No Furman receiver had over 35 yards, demonstrating MSU’s depth in the defensive backfield. Ultimately, the Palladins scored only two FG and one lone TD.
Just like last year, Michigan State won’t win by outscoring opponents in wide margins. Victories will come from superior defense.
Will one of the MOMS drop out of the picture? Will another BIG10 team enter the hunt? Either way, these are three MOMS you don’t want to mess with.
Stay tuned to see how the battle of the MOMS turns out!
Sports Analytics and Business at Indiana University
Stats courtesy of ESPN and Teamrankings.com