The big picture in the Big Ten just became much less clear.
No. 9 Michigan State stunned No. 3 Ohio State with a 41-yard field goal as time expired in a 17-14 victory at Ohio Stadium. It is Ohio State’s first loss of the season.
Michigan State, playing without starting quarterback Connor Cook, can clinch a spot in the Big Ten title game next week with a win against Penn State. Urban Meyer and the defending national champion Buckeyes will need some help to get back into the College Football Playoff picture.
The Spartans suffocated the Buckeyes, holding them to 132 yards of total offense in the rain in Columbus. It snaps Ohio State’s 23-game winning streak, which started in Week 3 of the 2014 season.
Iowa has clinched the Big Ten West, and can complete a perfect regular season next week with a win against Nebraska. Michigan State clinches the Big Ten East with a win, but if Penn State springs an upset, the winner of the Ohio State-Michigan game would face the Hawkeyes.
Ohio State could have a shot at a Playoff spot as an 11-1 team without playing in the Big Ten title game, but it is a pretty remote one. Meyer is now 47-4 at Ohio State.
More turmoil at the top of the Big Ten could help the SEC, both in getting a team into the Playoff and improving the odds of the conference producing another national champion. Alabama is safe if it wins out, but a Florida win in the SEC Championship game could leave a little uncertainty.
If the Gators win against Florida State next week, and provided Clemson, Iowa and Oklahoma State don’t all finish undefeated, the Gators would likely reach the Playoff. If those three teams do win out, the Gators could be up against other one-loss teams like Notre Dame and Ohio State for the final spot.
If the Buckeyes are shut out of the Big Ten title game and eventually the Playoff, that’s good news for the other teams. Ohio State is a more talented team than Michigan State and Iowa, and Meyer showed last year what his team can do in the postseason.