This past weekend, football powerhouses Penn State and Ohio State, both suffered their second losses of the season to Michigan State and Iowa, respectively. The Nittany Lions came into the weekend ranked seventh, while the Buckeyes were as high as third in the country in the AP polls and seventh and eighth in the college football playoff Rankings. But a blowout in Iowa City and a heartbreaker in East Lansing have essentially put the hopes of making the playoffs for these two universities out the window.

The Big Ten is too strong for its own good

A strong strength of schedule can be a double-edged sword for teams.

On the one hand, it gives great opportunities to get impressive wins and bounce back from losses. On the other hand, it gives much more opportunities to lose. The Big Ten, more specifically the East, is the best conference in football, team-for-team. They always produce a playoff team and are very deep. Indiana for example, who usually lose at least four or five division games a year, has still made bowl games each of the past two years. When you get to the top of the conference, you have teams like Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, and Wisconsin consistently fighting for the title while Michigan State is usually pretty good, and even Iowa and Nebraska have proven capable of producing good football teams.

With all of the competition, schedules become tough with very few easy games.

What this means is that the Big Ten can beat up on itself so much that in the end, no one really wins. This is what is happening this year. Penn State and Ohio State have both been ranked in the top four for multiple weeks this season, and are some of the best teams in the country.

However, an incredibly tough schedule has not been nice to them as both have lost their second games of the season and are barely ranked inside the top fifteen in the latest College Football Playoff Rankings. It is not easy for a team like Penn State having to play Michigan, Ohio State, and Michigan State every year. They are bound to lose at least one, and it has already happened twice this season already.

I think Penn State is the best team in the Big Ten, but they are basically out of the race for the top four and probably won't make the Big Ten championship with already two intra-conference losses. The best conference in football may not even have a team representing them in the playoffs come January.

The current situation

At the moment, Wisconsin is the only team in the Big Ten that has a chance of making the playoffs. They are undefeated, and the only team in the whole Big Ten (East & West), without at least two losses. Being undefeated in a power conference nine games it sounds like they should be in at least the top six, but they sit at eighth in the latest college playoff rankings. This has a lot to do with their strength of schedule, many believe they are not proven.

The Big Ten West is considerably weaker than the East, and though Wisconsin very well may be a top four team, they have not had much competition. They are the only team in the West currently ranked beside Iowa who is 25th in the AP, while four of the seven teams in the East are in the top 25 of the AP poll. Their lack of strength in their schedule means they will probably have to win out in order to make the playoffs.

(ESPN- via Twitter)

What could happen

Wisconsin should win out the rest of their regular season games against Iowa, Michigan, and Minnesota.

This will put them into the Big Ten championship game against probably Michigan State or Ohio State. My bet would be Ohio State, which would be by far the toughest matchup they've had all season, especially considering their first matchup against a ranked opponent is going to be this Saturday against the Iowa Hawkeyes who are twentieth in the nation (per CFP rankings). If they beat Ohio State (or whoever) in the Big Ten Championship, the committee will not really have a choice and Wisconsin should surely make the playoffs. Yet, one loss will probably keep them out of the playoffs with every other Big Ten team. This would mark the first time a Big Ten team has not made the playoffs since it began in 2015, and all the credit would be due to the Big Ten beating themselves and highlight the struggles of a stacked conference.

(Big Ten Network- via YouTube)