The SSG College Football league, using Wolverine Studios Draft Day Sports: College Football 2020, kicks off with coaching hiring in February. It has real teams but fictional players and in order to give these fictional players a history the league actually began play with the 2014 season and quick-simmed five years of history to bring us to the start of the 2019 season which will played as a kind of a trial run through over the first 6 months of the year before the 2020 season starts, as it does in real life, in the late summer.
To get you up to speed on how the college football landscape evolved over the past five years here is the second in a series of recaps looking at each conference.
The Big 10 Conference
I am sure it comes as no surprise to anyone that the dominant team over the past 5 seasons in the SSG Big 10 conference has been the SSG Ohio State Buckeyes. The Buckeyes have won the last three Big Ten titles and earned a pair of National Championships during that span as well. Ohio State has gone 39-5 over the past five seasons of Big Ten play and dropped just one conference game in the last three years. Entering the 2019 season Ohio State will once again be favored to not only win the Big Ten, but also be in the playoff for a fourth time since the SSG playoff system began in 2014.
SSG Michigan State has provided the biggest challenge to Ohio State in the East Division. The Spartans lone conference loss last season came in Columbus but they do remain the only team in the nation to beat the Buckeyes twice. Michigan State is also the only East Division team to finish ahead of Ohio State, but that was back in 2015 when the Spartans won the league title but, despite beating the Buckeyes in the regular season, had to watch Ohio State claim a playoff berth over them. Losses to Notre Dame, Georgia and an especially bad one to Minnesota forced the Spartans to settle for a Rose Bowl berth in 2015.
The SSG has not been kind to the Michigan Wolverines as the best the maize and blue could do was make a series of trips to lesser bowl games such as the Redbox Bowl, which they did win last season, resulting in a 9-4 campaign overall. Going 0-5 against Ohio State has not helped boost spirits in Ann Arbor, but a 2-3 record against Rutgers has perhaps done even more damage.
Penn State is coming off a disastrous 4 win season including just a 2-6 record in the Big Ten. Injuries to 5-star QB Brandon May did not help but the junior struggled even when he was healthy. For Penn State to duplicate it’s 9-4 season of 2017, May needs to bounce back and perform like he did as a freshman. If you believe in trends expect Rutgers to win a school SSG record 9 games this season. The Knights have improved by one victory each of the past three seasons and were 8-5 a year ago including 4-4 in conference play. After two consecutive winless seasons in Big Ten play, Indiana had their best year in SSG history, going 5-3 in conference play which included wins over Michigan and Penn State and a tough one point loss in Lansing. It will likely be another long year for SSG Maryland as the Terps are trending in the wrong direction with back to back 4-8 seasons, including just a 2 win year in conference play in 2018.
The West Division has belonged to the SSG Iowa Hawkeyes as they have played in the conference championship game each of the past 4 seasons. Their problem, like the rest of the conference, is they can’t solve Ohio State as the Buckeyes soundly beat Iowa in each of that last 3 games, outscoring the Hawkeyes 134-45 in the process. Counting SSG regular season play, Iowa is 0-5 all-time vs Ohio State.
Despite losing to Ohio State in the 2017 Big Ten title game, the Hawkeyes earned their only playoff berth that season as it was the year the Buckeyes imploded with a brutal last minute 38-35 loss to of all teams, UConn. The playoff berth, the only one for an SSG Big Ten team not based in Ohio, ended in disappointment as the Hawkeyes were thumped 41-9 by Central Florida on UCF’s run to a perfect season.
A 1-4 record against Iowa has been the biggest stumbling block Wisconsin’s has faced in trying to get back to the conference title game for the first time since they upset Ohio State in 2014. Coming off a school worst 5-7 season and now on the search for a new head coach one has to think this will not be the year Wisconsin returns to the Big Ten championship game. SSG Nebraska was second a year ago and is 19-7 overall over the past two seasons, but this might be a rebuilding year for the Cornhuskers as there is no clear-cut replacement for graduating QB Jeffrey Cummings, a 4 year starter.
SSG Minnesota was .500 in conference play for the second straight season and you can bet the Gophers have circled their 2019 meeting with Iowa on the calendar, as Minnesota looks to avenge a brutal 50-0 loss last season in Iowa City. SSG Purdue is coming off a couple of down years while neither Illinois nor Northwestern have ever done better than 2-6 in conference play.
Here are the all-time SSG Big 10 Conference standings as well as the results of the 5 conference titles games that have been played.
Next up: The SSG PAC 12.