With only conference championship weekend between us and the final rankings before the College Football Playoffs, there is still much to be played for, especially among the top teams in the country. One of the most interesting discussions at this point has to be around the Big Ten and what team, or teams, will represent the conference in the Playoffs.
A Wolverine victory yesterday would have made this so much simpler for the College Football Playoff committee, as they would have knocked the Buckeyes off the top of the Big Ten East, and basically out of the conversation for a Playoff spot. But with Ohio State winning, a fun conversation begins about who will be in the final four Playoff teams and who will be left on the outside looking in.
Thanks to their 30-27 double overtime victory, Ohio State is sitting at 10-2 on the year, but will be sitting on their couches watching the Big Ten Championship Game next Saturday between #5 (NRCFR) Wisconsin and #6 Penn State, likely as the second ranked team in the nation. Back on October 23rd, then 4-1 and unranked Penn State defeated an undefeated Buckeyes team that had their sights set on finishing the regular season unblemished. Now, a month later, both teams sit at 8-1 in conference play, meaning the Nittany Lions will be playing in the conference championship game Saturday as the East division champions.
To this point after two years of the College Football Playoff, every team that has been selected had been conference champions that season. No matter who comes out of the Big Ten Championship Game standing next Saturday, it will make for a very interesting conversation among the committee, especially if Alabama, Clemson, and Washington win their respective conference titles. Ohio State currently sits at second in the CFP rankings and, thanks to a victory over Michigan and Alabama winning again, will likely stay right there. But without a chance at the conference title, is it time to say goodbye to their national title hopes?
If you’re like me and always hoping for the dramatic, then you’ll be voting for an upset in either the SEC, ACC, or Pac-12 title games, which would give the Playoff committee a clusterfuck to work around. Would one of the top four or five teams in the country losing in the last weekend before the Playoffs and not winning their conference be enough to include two Big Ten teams in the final four? It would certainly seem so, at least from my perspective. I don’t see any way you can take Ohio State out of the top four, especially on accounts of a tiebreaker. Their one loss on the season is equal to that of both Clemson and Washington and their 8-1 B1G record matches Penn State.
It will be a lot easier to have this conversation a week from today, when we know the fate of championship weekend, and I’ll probably have it with myself again then. But until then, at least let me dream of a College Football Playoff National Championship between two Big Ten teams. Oh, and before one of the three people that actually reads this article tries to call me biased based on my hopes, I’m a Boise State fan and my dad is a Notre Dame fan, so I have exactly nothing to gain from free Buckeye tattoos or a shower after camp in Happy Valley.
If the season ended today, my top 4 would still be Alabama, Ohio State, Washington, and Clemson. But with a Penn State victory Saturday, I wouldn’t be too surprised if they made it in, along with the Buckeyes.
All we can do now is see what happens Sunday and see who gets left in the dark by the committee.
Wouldn’t this be so much easier with eight teams? Sixteen? Maybe?