Path To The 2018 College Football Playoff: Penn State Nittany Lions
What is Penn State’s path to the 2018 College Football Playoff? What are the different ways the Nittany Lions can get in?
Path To The Playoff: Penn State
What’s The Easiest Path?
It’s a raw deal, but that one loss might be enough to keep the Nittany Lions out – again.
They deserved to be in last year after 1) beating Ohio State and 2) winning the best conference in the 2016 college football season, but losing to USC in the Rose Bowl made it a harder argument after the fact.
This year, they have one good win over Michigan, but that’s about it. Winning at Michigan State would be nice, and beating Rutgers, Nebraska and at Maryland would be great, but they have to win in massive blowouts.
Now they have to hope to go 2016 Ohio State.
For this work, the easiest way would be for the Buckeyes to lose to Michigan and win the Big Ten championship. Then, 11-1 Penn State might get the same respect that last year’s Buckeyes received – the one point Nittany Lion loss in Columbus is more than respectable.
They need a two-loss Big 12 champion, too, along with a two-loss SEC Championship loser and an extra Notre Dame loss. A two-loss Pac-12 champ would be really, really nice, too.
If all of that happens, then the final four becomes SEC champion, ACC champion, Penn State, and maybe one-loss Pac-12 champion Washington.
Again, it’s 2016 all over again, with Penn State getting its revenge.
But, What Happens If …
Wisconsin goes 12-1 with a Big Ten championship?
Let’s the Badgers misfire against Michigan, or maybe at Minnesota or against Iowa? And then, let’s assume that three College Football Playoff spots are filled, and it comes down to 11-1 Penn State vs. the Badgers.
Penn State would have the better overall resume, but Wisconsin would have a win over an Ohio State team that beat the Nittany Lions – and a Big Ten championship.
The difference between this scenario and last year? 12-1 Big Ten champion vs. 11-2 Big Ten champion.
The Badgers would get in.
The Realistic Worst Case Scenario
There’s just too much traffic ahead.
The College Football Playoff committee gives the Nittany Lions a nice break in the rankings throughout the process, and then drops them off the map after the conference championships.
The SEC champion, a possible 12-1 SEC championship loser, a Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, and ACC champion with one loss or an unbeaten Miami and/or Wisconsin, and a one-loss Notre Dame.
Throw in Penn State, and that’s eight teams for four spots. The Nittany Lions would miss out.
Okay, What’s Going To Happen
The Nittany Lions will miss out.
They’ll go 11-1, but the Big Ten champion will either be a 12-1 Ohio State or a 13-0 Wisconsin.
Even so, Penn State will end up in the Orange Bowl against Miami. It’ll be a fantastic game, but for the second year in a row it’ll be really, really disappointing.