The Big Ten changed its tiebreaker rules last month to make sure teams wouldn’t have to wait until three days before the Big Ten Championship to know whether or not they would be playing in the game, ESPN’s Brian Bennett reports.
Under the old system, the Big Ten used the College Football Playoff rankings as a fifth tiebreaker to determine a division champion, after head-to-head record, intradivision record, record against the next-highest teams in the division and record against common conference opponents.
While that sounds somewhat unlikely on paper, there was worry it could have happened last year with Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State, and there’s now a possibility it could happen this year with Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State. Now, instead of using CFP rankings, the Big Ten will turn to overall winning percentage.
As Bennett points out, this change likely won’t lead to a different division champion, at least this year, as both systems were pointing to Ohio State taking the crown. To need a fifth tiebreaker, Ohio State and Penn State would need to win out, and Michigan would need to lose to Ohio State.
It’s hard to believe Ohio State wouldn’t get the highest CFP ranking in the division if it beat Michigan in the regular season finale. And now with the new system, Penn State’s earlier loss to Pitt would give it one extra loss and eliminate it from contention, leaving the Ohio State win over Michigan as the final tiebreaker. Our own Ben Axelrod went in-depth on the current tiebreakers on Sunday.
But what if Penn State hadn’t lost to Pitt? Bennett also reported the sixth and final tiebreaker, and it is something.
“The representative will be chosen by random draw.”
Now that would be a fun television special.