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Penn State, Ohio State, and Michigan set for EPIC collision course

The battle for the Big Ten East is going to be epic this year.



Penn State Football, Ohio State, Michigan, Big Ten
Sep 23, 2023; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions linebacker Dominic DeLuca (0) causes Iowa Hawkeyes running back Kamari Moulton (28) to fumble the ball during the fourth quarter at Beaver Stadium. Penn State defeated Iowa 31-0. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

There’s little doubt that the national title will likely run through the Big Ten East after one month of the 2023 college football season. Even if the College Football Playoff winner doesn’t come from the division, with 3 teams ranked in the top 6 nationally, the eventual national champion will likely have to defeat a Big Ten East team at some point. With the calendar just turned to October, the division race is still wide open. And a recent stat line released by Fox shows just how epic the battle between Penn State football, Ohio State, and Michigan will be down the stretch.

Penn State, Ohio State, and Michigan on epic collision course for the Big Ten East crown

The Big Ten East cemented itself as the top division in college football through the month of September. Currently, the AP poll has Penn State football as the No. 6 team in the nation, trailing closely behind conference foes Ohio State at No. 4 and Michigan at No. 2.

With the 3 teams all slated to play each other over the final 8 weeks of the season, Big Ten fans — and really college football viewers in general — are in for some great games in October and November. But a graphic released by Fox this weekend shows just how epic the race for the Big Ten East will be. According to Fox, Penn State, Ohio State, and Michigan are the only 3 teams in the country currently allowing less than 10 points per game on defense.

Will defense decide the Big Ten East this season?

If Fox’s graphic wasn’t enough of an indication, the “big 3” in the Big Ten East are touting elite-level defenses this season. Penn State, Ohio State, and Michigan all rank in the top 6 for total defense nationally after Week 5.

The Buckeyes and Wolverines come in at No. 6 and No. 4, respectively. Meanwhile, Penn State football finds itself at the top of the pack, ranked No. 1 in total defense. The Nittany Lions lead the nation in several other key defensive statistics, such as passing defense and passing defense efficiency. After allowing 76 total yards against Iowa 2 weeks ago, Penn State followed it up with 12 tackles for loss Saturday at Northwestern.

At the moment, it appears that the phrase “defense wins championships” rings true in the Big Ten East. But with all 3 offenses flashing the ability to dominate in their own rights, the eventual division champion may be decided by whoever can stand firm against a barrage of big plays down the stretch.

At any rate, we will know soon enough. Penn State football squares off against Ohio State in Columbus on October 21st before welcoming Michigan to Beaver Stadium on November 11th.

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A third-generation Penn Stater, Matt is Editor-in-Chief for Basic Blues Nation, co-host of the podcast PSU Tailgate Talk, and a credentialed member of the Penn State football media. Matt also works as a staffer in the Pennsylvania General Assembly. Matt lives in central Pennsylvania with his wife and a small army of pets.