What if a 4-loss (or worse) Northwestern wins the Big10?

Right now, a remarkably inconsistent Northwestern has a 5-4 overall record. Three non-conference losses include lackluster against Duke and Akron (!) and a noble but doomed effort last week against Notre Dame. (NU held their ground against the Irish for most of the game but came out flat after halftime and ultimately lost 31-21). Their sole conference loss so far was a cross-divisional nail-biter vs. Michigan, when they allowed Michigan to squeak by with a 3-point win.

That puts NU at 5-1 in the conference. If they win two of their next three games (Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois) they are in the Big10 Championship game; and even if they only win 1 of 3 they still have a good shot by virtue of having already beaten Wisconsin and Purdue, the next two teams. So looking at today’s standings and schedule, there is a better than even chance the Wildcats with at least 4 losses will be facing Michigan again (or maybe Ohio State) in the Big 10 Championship game.

Winning that game would be a huge upset of course; but of course it could happen. What then? Does the Big10 winner still get an automatic berth to the Rose Bowl? Or, with the playoff system in place, would NU get bumped to a “lesser” bowl? I mean, they really have no business being in the playoffs.

Also, let’s say Michigan or OSU beat NU (the more likely scenario). That’s not a very impressive win. Does a win over a weak NU hurt their chances to play for the National Championship?

Also - there is a conceivable, but unlikely, path for NU to lose out and still win the division. How do the scenarios change if a 5-7 Northwestern plays in the B10 championship game?

The semi-final games rotate around the big six bowls but for 2019 the Rose isn’t one of them. If they’re not serving as one of the playoff semi-finals, then the conference tie-ins still apply so the Rose Bowl is locked into taking the Pac-12 and Big Ten champs regardless of record, with the exception of when those teams are in the playoff.

Your second question is more interesting, if Northwestern wins the B10 title game and finishes 6-7. I remember one year UCLA made the P12 title game at 6-6 and lost, which gave them a losing record. The NCAA gave them a waiver for bowl eligibility, but that’s a slightly different circumstance. I wonder if the Rose Bowl would put pressure on the NCAA to not rule Northwestern bowl eligible so they could take Michigan or OSU instead, or if they’re locked in to take the winning team regardless of record.

Michigan’s already ranked #4 by the playoff committee and they have #10 OSU as their final game. If they win out that’s enough, regardless of who they face in the B10 championship, IMO.

Ah, thanks magnusblitz. I didn’t realize that the Rose Bowl wasn’t a playoff game this year. What you says makes sense. What’s kind of crazy is that NU could make the B10 Championship game and lose, and end up in a minor mid-December bowl game or no bowl at all. I guess they should have thought of that when they lost to Akron!

Wait, aren’t there actual rules for which team plays in which Bowl? It’s not just decided by “Well, we don’t really feel like it”, is it?

And this is exactly where conference expansion has brought us.

Used to be, you played everybody else in your conference. The conference champion was easy to determine, except for the occasional tie.

Now, thanks to chasing that almighty television dollar, conferences have ballooned past the point of round-robin (except for the Big XII, which only has X teams, while the Big 10 has XIV). Nobody plays everybody, so the strength of schedules aren’t the same … add in divisions and the conference championship game, and now you’re running the risk of a mediocre team backing their way into a conference championship, then if the chips fall right, winning the damn thing.

I have no sympathy. It’s the conferences (and the bowls working hand-in-hand with them) who came up with this system. If that results in a 6-7 team “winning” the conference “championship” and taking that spot in the Rose Bowl … maybe you shoulda thought of that before chasing those east-coast TV dollars and expanding past a manageable size.

This is why the “super conference” idea would suck. A 16-team grouping isn’t a conference; it’s two 8-team conferences with occasional crossover games.

The Big 10 and Pac-12 champions get automatic bids to the Rose Bowl in years when it is not one of the CFP semi-final games. If either conference champion is in the CFP semi-finals, it is replaced in the Rose Bowl with another team from that conference. I am pretty sure that the Rose Bowl Committee (definitely not the conference, and not the CFP committee - and I’m pretty sure they don’t have to choose the highest-ranked team) chooses the replacement team in that instance. (In years where the Rose Bowl is a CFP semifinal, the Big 10 and Pac-12 champions are still guaranteed spots in one of the “big six” bowls - Rose, Orange, Sugar, Cotton, Fiesta, and Peach. However, in that case, if a conference champion is in a CFP semi-final, the conference does not get an automatic replacement for it.)

Note that the Big 12 and SEC champions get automatic spots in the Sugar Bowl, and the ACC champion gets an automatic spot in the Orange Bowl (although this year, it is a CFP semi-final); however, if one of those conference champions is in a CFP semi-final, the bowls do have to take the highest-ranked remaining team from that conference.

Sorry about the second post - I missed the edit window

Why, yes. Yes, there are. Here are this year’s rules:

  1. The #1 and #4 teams in the final CFP rankings (announced on Sunday 12/2 this year) are put into whichever of the Orange or Cotton Bowls is considered more of an advantage for the #1 team. The #2 and #3 CFP teams are put into the other bowl.

  2. The Big 10 and Pac-12 champions are put into the Rose Bowl. If either is in a CFP Semi-Final, it is replaced with a team from the same conference. I am pretty sure that, for the Rose Bowl, the Rose Bowl Committee gets to choose the replacement team; it does not have to be the highest-ranked remaining team from that conference, as long as it is bowl eligible. (The conference and the CFP committee definitely have no say in the matter.)

  3. The SEC and Big 12 champions are put into the Sugar Bowl. If either is in a CFP Semi-Final, in this case, the highest ranked remaining team from that conference gets the conference’s spot in the Sugar Bowl.

  4. The Fiesta and Peach Bowls are filled by the four teams that are highest in this order:
    (a) The ACC champion, if it is not in a CFP Semi-Final;
    (b) The highest ranked champion of the American, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West, and Sun Belt conferences, if it is not in a CFP Semi-Final (and if Navy wins the American, the committee will wait until after the Army-Navy game to decide which of the conference champions gets the automatic spot);
    © The highest ranked teams not already assigned to bowl games.
    The actual pairings are done by the CFP committee; while there are “guidelines” (for example, there “shouldn’t be” rematches of games played earlier in the season, and geography should be taken into account), there are no firm rules for this.

Clarification: if none of the “group of 5” conference champions is ranked in the final top 25, the CFP committee must still choose one to get the automatic bowl berth.

In years when the Orange Bowl is not a CFP Semi-Final, the ACC champion and the highest-ranked team from the SEC, Big 10, and Notre Dame that is not in a CFP Semi-Final or the Rose or Sugar Bowls play in that game.

Things fell right for Northwestern on Saturday - they beat Iowa while Wisconsin fell to Penn State and Purdue got shellacked by Minnesota. So the Northwestern Wildcats are your 2018 Big 10 West champs and will face the winner of the Michigan/OSU game in the championship game on Dec. 1. NU still has two games left against Minnesota and Illinois which are essentially meaningless except for the opportunity to try to climb up from #24 in the rankings.

ETA: and for the opportunity to improve their bowl bid, should they fail to fail to win the B10 outright. They will be huge underdogs on Dec 1.

As an Illinois alum, I’m hoping we can beat NU and drag down their power ranking ahead of the Big Ten Championship game. And then they can play Michigan close and drag them outside the top 4.

Oh yes, I am spiteful.

I was hoping for them to lose out until a Big 10 Championship victory, leaving them 6-7. A team must be at least .500 to be bowl-eligible, but the Rose Bowl takes the Big 10 victor, should they not be in the CFP. What do you do?

I presume the NCAA bylaws take precedence over the CFP rules, and Northwestern would not be eligible for any bowl. There was a time when a conference champion could qualify with a losing record if its conference had a contract with a bowl that required that the conference champion play, but that’s not there now.

However, the NCAA can grant a waiver in a situation like this, and I have a feeling the Power 5 conferences would put pressure on the NCAA to let a Power 5 conference champion with a losing record into one of the six CFP bowls.

ive always wondered why don’t they just do a fb version the basketball tourney ……?

It would take too long. It’s the reason CFB doesn’t expand beyond a 4-team playoff. A 32-team March Madness style tournament would take five rounds of games, which would mean three extra weeks beyond the current playoff, which would last longer than many schools’ semesters.

I’m hoping for a rematch with Michigan in the B10CG.

I’ve been pulling for Northwestern as kind of a 2nd favorite team ever since their miracle Rose Bowl season.

Can the regular season and do a 1024-team, 10-round knockout tournament. Every year there’ll be exactly one undefeated team that’s the national champion. :smiley:

This would be a valid argument if it wasn’t for the fact that the NCAA already runs a 32-team football championship. :rolleyes:

Actually, run it as a Swiss-system tournament, and you’d get the same result, but everyone would get to play the 10 games. :smiley:

After looking at the 11/13 CFP rankings, I came up with something involving Northwestern that’s very possible:
Michigan slaps Ohio State around, then has a little trouble with Northwestern, but still manages to win the Big 10 title and end up #4 in the final CFP rankings
Northwestern ends up ranked ahead of Ohio State
Since the Big 10 champion is in a CFP semi-final, the Rose Bowl has to fill its spot with another Big 10 team
AFAIK, the Rose Bowl is not subject to the “you have to choose the highest ranked team from that conference” rule, the way the Sugar Bowl is with the SEC and Big 12 (and the Orange with the ACC, in years when it’s not a CFP semi-final)
The Rose Bowl Committee goes with Ohio State, because “they’re a better draw” - and Northwestern is so far down in the final rankings that it ends up shut out of the Big Six bowls

oops - double post