BigTen Playoff Picture: Season 20, Week 5

Ryan Moreland · June 10, 2024


By: Ryan Moreland (@ryanmoreland)

There was a lot of action in the BigTen. While some of it made the picture a little clearer, some of it also made it much murkier. Let’s take a quick look at how teams make the playoffs before we jump into this wild conference.

How to Make the Playoffs

The top three teams from each conference will automatically earn a playoff spot. After that, there will be a league-wide vote on who the last four teams should be. If there is a tie within the top three teams, the following tiebreakers will be used (in order) to break the tie.

RankTeamOverall RecordConference Record
2Penn State4-13-1
6Ohio State1-40-3
7Michigan State0-50-4

Michigan stole the top spot in the conference last week with a win over USC. While they have yet to clinch anything, they have put themselves in a fantastic position. The Wolverines still have plenty of work left (all three remaining games are in conference), but they control their destiny for the BigTen Conference Title. They are the only team that can say that honestly. They can also punch their ticket into the playoffs this week with a win over Michigan State.

Penn State and USC are tied after USC’s loss to Michigan. Right now Penn State holds the tiebreaker, but that will change when they play each other in Week 7. Both teams have lost to Michigan, so they would need the Wolverines to drop a few games for them to win the conference. However, both teams are still firmly in control of their odds to make the playoffs. Both teams can also clinch a playoff spot this week with a win.

The Oregon Ducks netted a massive win over Illinois to keep them on pace with the top-end programs. If Oregon beats Penn State this coming week they will punch their ticket into the Season 20 playoffs. If they lose, they will be eliminated from automatic bid contention. They would be a strong vote-in candidate, but they would much rather take care of business and punch their ticket.

The Fighting Illini still have a chance to earn an automatic bid, but the road is narrow. They not only need to win their last two conference games but they also need Michigan to lose out. It is possible, but not likely at this point.

Ohio State also still has a chance, but they need help. For the Buckeyes to make the playoffs they need to win out and they need either USC or Michigan to lose their remaining conference games AND they would need Illinois to lose at one of their remaining conference games.

Michigan State has been mathematically eliminated from an automatic bid. They still could contend for a vote-in spot if they were to finish strong.


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