Ohio State deserves to be in the College Football Playoff. But how does undoubtedly the best conference in the nation not send its champion as well? We explore in this edition of Livin’ B1G.
The College Football Playoff committee didn’t seem to argue that the Big Ten has been the sport’s best conference all season. Four of its top seven teams heading into Championship Week resided in the B-1-G.
For a long time, we safely assumed the winner of the Big Ten championship game would be in the Playoff, but that’s probably because we figured said winner would be either Ohio State or Michigan. When things started turning and Penn State began to emerge in the East division, conference supporters started to worry.
And those fears were realized on Sunday when the Nittany Lions, carrying victories over Ohio State and Wisconsin, were slotted at No. 5 in the final CFP rankings despite winning the Big Ten championship.
Please help me understand.
I’ll try and sidestep you Buckeye fans thinking I’m trying to leave Ohio State out – that’s not true. I fully believe the Buckeyes should be in the Playoff. They are, after all, the best team in the nation’s best conference.
But shouldn’t the only team that beat the Buckeyes, the one who knocked Ohio State out of the Big Ten title game and won 11 games – including nine in a row – be among the top four, as well?
Make your case for Clemson, which lost to Pittsburgh. You know what other team lost to Pittsburgh? Penn State. And of Pitt’s quality wins – Auburn, Louisville, Florida State – all of those opposing teams have at least three losses.
Make your case for Washington, which played Rutgers, Idaho and Portland State during the non-conference season. It needed overtime to beat 3-9 Arizona and got dominated by USC on Nov. 12.
It’s no wonder Penn State coach James Franklin called out the committee immediately after his team rallied from 21 points down to beat Wisconsin, 38-31, in the Big Ten title game, and who could blame him.
Going to the Rose Bowl is a great accomplishment considering where the Penn State program was a mere three years ago. The Nittany Lions will face those aforementioned Trojans who beat Washington in Pasadena, and it should be a hell of a game.
But one can’t help but feel that Penn State was Snubbed …
… We’re not going to forget about Michigan being left out of the College Football Playoff either. Mostly because Michigan fans won’t let us. And honestly, they do have a strong case. But the fact is this – Penn State finished one spot ahead of Michigan in the final CFP rankings, meaning that if Clemson or Washington had lost in their respective championship games, it would be the Nittany Lions in the Playoff, not Michigan.
I know – the Wolverines beat Penn State by 39 points earlier in the season. And I know – Michigan lost to Ohio State in an epic double-overtime game. But the Nittany Lions didn’t go ahead and lose to Iowa like Michigan did, and Penn State actually beat Ohio State. It appears the absolute chaos of both Clemson and Washington losing was Michigan’s only hope of reaching the Playoff.
Michigan players were diplomatic after getting the news. Though that didn’t stop Florida State graduate assistant coach Jeremiah Wilson from throwing a shot at Jim Harbaugh ahead of what should be a great Orange Bowl.
… Lost in all of this has been Wisconsin, which fell by a touchdown each to Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State in a season that exceeded many expectations. The saving grace for the B1G is that the Badgers received a Cotton Bowl bid, meaning four teams from the conference are represented in major bowl games. That’s the least college football could do.
… All of the Playoff talk has overshadowed some coaching news around the Big Ten. Indiana coach Kevin Wilson resigned suddenly on Thursday for what athletic director Fred Glass said were “philosophical differences.” Glass immediately promoted defensive coordinator Tom Allen to replace Wilson.
However, the Indianapolis Star’s Zach Osterman wrote in an extensive piece that investigations into Wilson’s mistreatment of players began over year ago and contributed to Wilson’s departure.
… There were rumors of Western Michigan coach P.J. Fleck potentially going to Purdue, but instead the Boilermakers signed Western Kentucky coach Jeff Brohm to a six-year contract Monday. Brohm is no Darrell Hazell and should be able to turn around the program within a couple of years. At least, that’s the hope.
… Finally, I got to have my own Livin’ B1G moment this weekend thanks to Campus Insiders, as I traveled to Indianapolis to write and catch some of the pre- and post-game action from the Big Ten championship game. You can check out some of the video and images I captured on my Twitter page.
And please don’t forget to hit the follow button, because it’s been three months since I started working here and I still have a pathetic amount of followers.