How Minnesota's loss to Iowa impacts Big Ten, College Football Playoff picture

Sporting News

Iowa did it again.

For the third time in four seasons, Iowa knocked off a top-10 team at Kinnick Stadium in November that alters the College Football Playoff picture. The Hawkeyes defeated No. 7 Minnesota 23-19 on Saturday. That comes one week after the Gophers handed No. 9 Penn State its first loss.

MORE: How Penn State loss to Minnesota affects Playoff

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The Hawkeyes built a 20-3 lead in the first half before holding off Minnesota's rally in the second half. That will make it tougher for P.J. Fleck's team to break through to the College Football Playoff, but the Big Ten championship still is within reach.

Here is how the Gophers' loss affects the Big Ten and CFP picture:

Big Ten won't get two teams in CFP

It’s going to be tough for the Big Ten to jam two teams into the College Football Playoff now, because it won't be a matchup of unbeaten teams in Indianapolis.

That puts more pressure on Ohio State to finish off a perfect season after missing out on the Playoff with one loss the last two seasons. There was an allure of having both the Buckeyes and Gophers get to Indianapolis with matching unbeaten records because the Big Ten would have been the only Power 5 conference to have that.

That’s gone now. The pending SEC championship game between LSU and Georgia will have much more appeal, and the same possibility exists for the Pac-12 if Oregon and Utah get there with one loss each. The Buckeyes could theoretically lose the Big Ten championship game and still get in, but that’s just not a risk you want to take.

Gophers could win out and miss out

On the flip side, let’s say Minnesota wins out and atones for the loss to Iowa much like Ohio State did in 2017.

Would that be enough to get in the Playoff? It wouldn't be easy. Clemson, LSU and Georgia are virtual locks with one loss or fewer, and a one-loss Pac-12 champion like Oregon or Big 12 champion like Oklahoma would be tough to push out of the way given the nature of the Gophers’ loss.

Or even worse, Minnesota could find itself fighting with Alabama for the last Playoff spot. How do you think that would work out?

Wisconsin can still win West

The Gophers left the door for Wisconsin to win the Big Ten West.

Minnesota can clinch a share of the division with a victory against Northwestern next week, which would set up a winner-goes-to-Indy scenario against the Badgers at TCF Bank Stadium on Nov. 30. The battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe will be more heated than ever knowing the Gophers won that game 37-15 last season.

New Year's Day 6 scramble

The Big Ten still has five teams with two losses or fewer. In Ohio State (10-0), Penn State (9-1), Minnesota (9-1), Wisconsin (8-2) and Michigan (8-2).

These last two weeks will determine which one of those teams makes the Playoff and, in turn, which one lands in the Rose Bowl and the New Year’s Day 6. Perhaps the Big Ten gets another at-large team given the strength of those five teams.

The Ohio State-Penn State, Ohio State-Michigan and Wisconsin-Minnesota matchups the next two weeks will determine who goes where.

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