Who deserves the honor of going to the 2020 Rose Bowl, Penn State or Wisconsin?
Thee wasn’t exactly a whole lot of drama before this year’s College Football Playoff big reveal.
So there has to be something that gets everyone riled up, and as it turns out, it’s the battle between Penn State and Wisconsin for the Rose Bowl.
Ohio State won the Big Ten Championship and is off to the College Football Playoff. The Rose Bowl can make its own call on what Big Ten team it wants to face Oregon, however, it’s more than just politely suggested that the top-ranked Big Ten team available should get the nod.
Wisconsin was No. 8 in the penultimate College Football Rankings, but it suffered a third loss on the season when it dropped the Big Ten Championship to the Buckeyes. Penn State was No. 10 in the last rankings, but it’s bound to move up.
Why does this matter?
The Rose Bowl is the Rose Bowl. It’s the one bowl outside of the College Football Playoff that everyone watches and pays attention to. Between Wisconsin and Penn State, one is going to the Rose, and the other is almost certainly going to the Cotton Bowl to face Memphis.
The Cotton is nice, but that’s the kid’s table of New Year’s Six bowls this year, especially considering Tiger head coach Mike Norvell is off to Florida State.
Again, good bowl, dangerous opponent, but it’s not the Rose.
So with all that in mind, let’s have the two contenders argue it out …
Wisconsin: We won the Big Ten West, got to the Big Ten Championship, and we had to play the CFP No. 1 team again while you got to sit at home watching Netflix. Why should we be punished with an extra loss against what was supposed to be the best team in the country?
Penn State: Because you lost. You have three losses, you got steamrolled in the second half, and that’s after you were destroyed by the Buckeyes the first time around 38-7. You didn’t even get off the bus in Columbus.
Wisconsin: Big deal. You lost to Ohio State, too …
Penn State: Yeah, 28-17. We were in the game late down 21-17 before they put the game away on a fourth quarter drive. You couldn’t even punt right in the second half in Indy.
Wisconsin: Dude! You gained a whopping 227 yards of total offense against the Buckeyes. And come on, let’s stop feeding this little fantasy here – you were never winning that game.
Penn State: Okay, but we were there in the fourth quarter, and you weren’t – in either game.
Wisconsin: Yeah, you were there in the fourth quarter against Minnesota, too, right up until you lost. 38-17 … we had no problems blowing their doors off, and …
Penn State: We were going to be polite and wait until the time was right, but Illinois 24, Wisconsin 23. Drop mic.
Wisconsin: Yeah, total whiff. Totally dominated everything about that game except for the last five minutes, and we …
Penn State: Illinois 24, Wisconsin 23 … what are we doing here?
Wisconsin: What are you doing here? Exactly what did you do this season besides serve as a decent win for a Minnesota team that thought it actually had a chance to beat us?
Penn State: Besides not losing to Illinois 24-23?
Wisconsin: Ooooooooh, you snuck by Idaho 79-7. There wasn’t any FCS dead weight on our schedule.
Penn State: Oooooooooh, USF, Central Michigan and Kent State, and …
Wisconsin: Ugh .. you really want to do this? You beat Buffalo. We beat Kent State, who beat Buffalo. We also crushed a Central Michigan team that played in the MAC Championship game 61-0 …
Penn State: Really?
Wisconsin: Okay, fine, let’s really do this. You beat Michigan State 28-7, we beat Michigan State 38-0 …
Penn State: At home. You beat Michigan State at home. We won on the road.
Wisconsin: What’s your big, giant win … Iowa?
Penn State: On the road 17-12. You needed a two-point conversion stop to keep from gagging that away at home.
Wisconsin: Uh huh … and Michigan?
Penn State: This is where we were hoping to play the Illinois card.
Wisconsin: Yeah, if that Michigan game lasts another five minutes, or if Ronnie Bell doesn’t drop that pass, you choke in epic fashion. By the way, 35-14 over the Wolverines, and it wasn’t even that close.
Penn State: You scored 23 points against Illinois. You needed 25.
Wisconsin: But we won a Big Ten division and were actually beating Ohio State for a half. You finished your regular season playing Rutgers.
Penn State: And you were outscored 27-0 in the second half.
Wisconsin: Ohio State is really, really good.
Penn State: And, apparently, so is Illinois.
Wisconsin: And, apparently, so is Minnesota … at least for you.
Penn State: But the College Football Playoff committee doesn’t seem to care. It loves us.
Wisconsin: Yeah, can’t quite figure that one out. You’re getting a TON of love for that one nail-biter win over a Michigan team we dropkicked. You got pictures on those CFP types or something?
Penn State: Nope … just didn’t lose to Illinois. Good luck dealing with all that speed and athleticism on a fired up Memphis team.
So what’s really going to happen?
There’s actually no reason for the College Football Playoff committee to rank Penn State ahead of Wisconsin. If the committee liked Wisconsin enough last week to rank it No. 8 and Penn State No. 10, then that first half in the Big Ten Championship really should be enough for a trip to Pasadena.
It’s not fair if Wisconsin gets punished for playing the No. 1 team while Penn State didn’t have to do much of anything.
Who’s getting the call?
It’s a coin flip. The guess is that it’s going to be Wisconsin, but that’s trying to think on the deserve factor. The Illinois loss really may just be the anchor that drags the Badgers to the Cotton Bowl.
However, Penn State went in 2017, and Wisconsin was last there in 2013 – that could be a factor … but not really.
Penn State is really good. Wisconsin is really good.
Memphis and Oregon are really good, too.
They’re just exhibition games. The Big Ten finally got its champion into the College Football Playoff again – that’s what really matters.