Penn State outlasted Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game, and Nittany Lions coach James Franklin believes his team should be in the College Football Playoff. It won’t happen, though.
It’s true. You’re just going to have to believe it.
The outright champion of the best conference in college football won’t be participating in the College Football Playoff. No peaches and no fiestas.
Penn State beat Wisconsin, 38-31, in Saturday night’s Big Ten Championship, a game that went back and forth between two of the top seven teams in the most recent CFP rankings. No, Ohio State and Michigan weren’t playing at Lucas Oil Stadium. But, the Buckeyes are going to the Playoff, and Michigan was ahead of both of the teams playing for the Big Ten title.
Instead, Penn State will be off to the Rose Bowl, and the debate will heat up for how a team that doesn’t win its own division, let alone its own conference, can play in the College Football Playoff, while the winner of that same conference is left out.
On the surface, that seems ridiculous. But the committee continues to state that their objective is to pick the best four teams in college football, regardless of, well, anything really. And it’s tough to argue against Ohio State being one of the best four teams.
The Big Ten title game winner was essentially eliminated from the race once No. 3 Clemson held on to beat Virginia Tech, 42-35, in the ACC Championship Game, all but assuring the committee’s four teams from this past Tuesday will hold up in Sunday’s announcement.
That doesn’t make sense to Penn State coach James Franklin, though.
“They say if you get better as the season goes on, you can make up for your own mistakes,” Franklin said on the field after the game. “We’ve done that. Your call, committee.”
Unfortunately, Franklin won’t like the committee’s call.
The Big Ten title game certainly could’ve fooled everyone as being a de facto play-in game for the CFP. Wisconsin gave up its most yards in seven games and the most points all season, as Penn State scored on plays of 33, 40 and 70 yards.
Those Big Ten slogs you heard of? Not this one. The Nittany Lions and Badgers were fighting not only for a Big Ten championship, but also for a possible Playoff berth.
Hope can be a dangerous thing. But the consolation prize isn’t so bad. Penn State is going back to the Rose Bowl for the first time since the 2008 season, when it lost to USC. The Trojans could be the Nittany Lions’ opponents this time around as well.
It seems tough to believe that the champion from the best conference won’t be playing in the College Football Playoff. But that’s the scenario Penn State is left to reckon with.