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Big Ten should not have three powers in one division

Should the Big Ten change

its divisional structure, and

if so, how?

By Cory Giger

cgsports12@aol.com

Without a doubt, I believe the Big Ten should and probably eventually will realign its divisions to something that makes more sense and gives the league its best chance to maximize the number of teams it can get into the College Football Playoff.

The way things currently are set up can really only hurt the Big Ten instead of helping it.

Let’s say Penn State and Ohio State are both outstanding in a given year. They’ll play each other in the regular season, and the loser of that game will always have a tough time getting into a four-team playoff, simply because it won’t have the added benefit of proving itself in the Big Ten championship game.

The SEC model is a good, and opposite, comparison.

Georgia and Alabama are probably the two best teams in the country, although one certainly can debate against Alabama so far.

Still, if the one-loss Tide run the table, they’ll be in the SEC championship game and will face Georgia. If Alabama wins that game, there’s a great chance that both of those teams will be in the playoff.

That’s the benefit of having two superpowers in opposite divisions.

I just do not see many benefits at all of having your conference’s three top powers all being in the same division, which is the case in the Big Ten East with Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan.

Furthermore, the Big Ten plays nine conference games, so the league further hurts itself in a lot of ways because teams just beat up on one another for an extra week.

I don’t really have a problem with the nine-game conference schedule, but if that is going to remain, then the Big Ten simply must do something about the division alignment.

My preference would be to take Michigan and Michigan State out of the East and put them in the West. The league then could move, say, Purdue and Illinois into the East.

If that sounds familiar, it’s because the league was set up that way with the badly named Legends and Leaders divisions a decade ago. Wisconsin also was in the same division as Penn State and Ohio State.

All of that was before Rutgers and Maryland were added to the league, which forced realignment.

Michigan and Michigan State have to stay together. You could put both in the other division and have protected crossover rivalries, such as Ohio State-Michigan and Penn State-Michigan State.

This all seems like common sense to me. In fact, I see pretty much no reason why this wouldn’t be done, because it just doesn’t make sense to have the three powers all in the same division.

Once we get to a 12-team playoff, if that does happen at some point, the Big Ten still would benefit from having the biggest powers broken up more evenly, which could help get three teams or maybe on a rare occasion even four into a playoff.

Cory Giger is a Penn State beat writer for DK Pittsburgh Sports and host of “Sports Central” weekday afternoons from 4-5 on WRTA. Contact him at cgsports12@aol.com.

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