Penn State’s thrilling 38-31 comeback win against Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game might give the College Football Playoff selection committee something more to consider as it enters its final deliberations Sunday morning.
The No. 7 Nittany Lions (11-2) now hold a conference championship, which is considered a vital piece in the playoff mosaic. They beat the No. 6 Badgers (10-3), which automatically gives the Nittany Lions a quality-win boost. Penn State has nine straight victories and also defeated No. 2 Ohio State (11-1) in late October, which adds something to the formula.
Top-ranked Alabama (13-0) unquestionably is in the playoff. But there’s some debate for the the final three spots. Such as:
- Can the Buckeyes, which selection committee chairman Kirby Hocutt considered well above the Nittany Lions on Tuesday, hang on to its spot?
- Will No. 3 Clemson (12-1) remain in the field after a 42-35 win against No. 23 Virginia Tech?
- Will Washington (12-1), which won the Pac-12 title over No. 8 Colorado 41-10, stay at No. 4?
- Can Michigan, which dropped two road games on the game’s final play to opponents a combined 19-5 but beat Penn State 49-10, replace the Huskies?
- Or will the Nittany Lions vault all of them save for Alabama?
What is sure to come up in the committee room is Washington’s soft nonconference schedule of Rutgers, Portland State and Idaho, which ranked 127th out of 128 teams. By comparison, Penn State beat American Athletic Conference champion Temple and lost to an 8-4 Pittsburgh squad that also beat Clemson.
The discussions are sure to be lively and intense. Will it come down to “best four teams,” which would include Ohio State and possibly Michigan? Or will the decision come down to “four most deserving champions” that could add the Nittany Lions but leave out the Buckeyes? Or will it be a combination? We’ll find out Sunday morning.
— CFBPlayoff (@CFBPlayoff) November 30, 2016
HOW TO WATCH THE PLAYOFF PAIRINGS ON TV: ESPN has exclusive rights to broadcast the selection committee’s four teams competing in the College Football Playoff. Live coverage begins at noon (ET) and the four-team unveil is slated for around 12:30 p.m. Around 2:30 p.m., the selection committee discloses the other eight teams that will compete in the other four New Year’s Six bowl games as well as the complete top 25 list.
HOW TO WATCH THE OTHER BOWL PAIRINGS ON TV: ESPNU will broadcast the bowl selections on its Championship Drive: Bowl Selection Show beginning at 4 p.m. (ET). Those pairings will come out individually and not through an unveiling.
Entering Selection Sunday, here are Land of 10 reporter Scott Dochterman’s bowl projections:
College Football Playoff
PEACH — 1. Alabama vs. 4. Penn State
FIESTA — 2. Clemson vs. 3. Ohio State
New Year’s Six games
ROSE (Big Ten vs. Pac-12) — Michigan vs. Washington
SUGAR (SEC vs. Big 12) — Auburn vs. Oklahoma
ORANGE (ACC vs. Big Ten/SEC/Notre Dame) — Florida State vs. Wisconsin
COTTON (Top non-Power 5 vs. At-large) — Western Michigan vs. USC
Big Ten bowls
OUTBACK (Big Ten vs. SEC) — Iowa vs. Florida
HOLIDAY (Big Ten vs. Pac-12) — Minnesota vs. Stanford
MUSIC CITY (Big Ten/ACC vs. SEC) — Nebraska vs. Tennessee
FOSTER FARMS (Big Ten vs. Pac-12) — Washington State vs. Indiana
PINSTRIPE (Big Ten vs. ACC) — Northwestern vs. North Carolina
QUICK LANE (Big Ten vs. ACC) — Maryland vs. Boston College
Power 5 bowl games
CITRUS (ACC/Big Ten vs. SEC) — Louisville vs. LSU
TAXSLAYER (ACC/Big Ten vs. SEC) — Miami vs. Kentucky
BELK (ACC vs. SEC) — Virginia Tech vs. Arkansas
TEXAS (SEC vs. Big 12) — Texas A&M vs. Kansas State
LIBERTY (SEC vs. Big 12) — Georgia vs. TCU
BIRMINGHAM (SEC vs. AAC) — South Carolina vs. Houston
INDEPENDENCE (SEC vs. ACC) — Vanderbilt vs. N.C. State
ALAMO (Big 12 vs. Pac-12) — Oklahoma State vs. Colorado
RUSSELL ATHLETIC (ACC vs. Big 12) — West Virginia vs. Pittsburgh
SUN (ACC vs. Pac-12) — Georgia Tech vs. Utah
LAS VEGAS (Pac-12 vs. MWC) — **Mississippi State vs. Wyoming
MILITARY (ACC vs. AAC ) — Wake Forest vs. Temple
ARMED FORCES (Big 12 vs. Navy/Army) — Louisiana Tech** vs. Navy
CACTUS (Pac-12 vs. Big 12) — **Boise State vs. Baylor
HEART OF DALLAS (Big Ten vs. CUSA) — **Army vs. North Texas
ST. PETERSBURG (ACC vs. American) — **Appalachian State vs. South Florida
MIAMI BEACH (AAC vs. MAC) — Tulsa vs. Toledo
BOCA RATON (AAC vs. CUSA) — Memphis vs. Western Kentucky
CURE (AAC vs. Sun Belt) — Central Florida vs. Arkansas State
BAHAMAS (MAC vs. CUSA) — Eastern Michigan vs. Old Dominion
POINSETTIA (BYU vs. MWC) — BYU vs. San Diego State
POTATO (MWC vs. MAC) — Colorado State vs. Miami-Ohio
HAWAII (MWC vs. CUSA) — Hawaii vs. Middle Tennessee State
NEW ORLEANS (Sun Belt vs. CUSA) — Louisiana-Lafayette vs. Southern Miss
NEW MEXICO (MWC vs. CUSA) — New Mexico vs. UTSA
ARIZONA (Sun Belt vs. MWC) — Idaho vs. Air Force
DOLLAR GENERAL (Sun Belt vs. MAC) — Troy vs. Ohio
CAMELLIA (Sun Belt vs. MAC) — South Alabama vs. Central Michigan
** Replacement teams for conferences that did not fill their bowl slots.