Penn State just missed the four-team College Football Playoff field, coming in at No. 5 Sunday afternoon.
But how close were the Big Ten champs to overtaking No. 4 Washington’s spot? That was a large topic of conversation when CFP committee chairman Kirby Hocutt joined reporters on a conference call.
The fourth spot between Penn State and Washington came down to who the committee thought was the better team. And that happened to be Washington, Hocutt said.
“After considerable conversation as to whether Washington or Penn State is better, the committee concluded that Washington is the better team,” Hocutt told reporters.
“A lot of discussion and detail on who was deserving on that No. 4 spot,” he added. “I’d said a number of weeks earlier, in the eyes of the selection committee, Ohio State was a better football team than Penn State. Our rankings reflect that decision, but Penn State significantly enhanced their position in our conversation with a victory over Wisconsin and their performance.”
Hocutt also noted that the committee viewed Penn State’s 49-10 loss at Michigan on Sept. 24 as “noncompetitive.” This was another factor that kept the Nittany Lions out of the field.
Hocutt was then asked what constitutes a “noncompetitive” game.
“I don’t believe standing here today that you can put a definition on what points separation determines a competitive or a noncompetitive game,” he said. “Each game is different, and I believe that this selection committee, when we watch a football game, you know if it was a competitive game or not.”
Penn State fans might not like those answers, but they can take solace in the fact their team won the Big Ten — possibly the most competitive conference in college football.