The final four teams will be as follows:
- Alabama (13-0)
- Clemson (12-1)
- Ohio State (11-1)
- Washington (12-1)
On New Year’s Eve, the Crimson Tide and Huskies will square off in the Peach Bowl and the Tigers and Buckeyes will battle in the Fiesta Bowl.
But one team was notably left out of the Playoff — the Penn State Nittany Lions.
Champions of the Big Ten, Penn State deserves the spot currently held by Ohio State and it’s a travesty that the CFP selection committee decided to give the Nittany Lions the cold shoulder after a fantastic season.
According to the College Football Playoff’s official website, “the selection committee ranks the [top four] teams based on conference championships won, strength of schedule, head-to-head results, comparison of results against common opponents and other factors.”
At least half of those factors are already in the Nittany Lions’ favor.
Ohio State, while a talented and proven football team, didn’t even play for their conference title, a knock that should be taken into account.
Further, Penn State won the head-to-head matchup with Ohio State this season, 24-21, at the end of October.
Neither mattered to the selection committee who made the Buckeyes the first non-conference champion in the Playoff since its inception three seasons ago.
CFP committee chair Kirby Hocutt made things even more interesting on Sunday when he told reporters that the debate for the final spot wasn’t even between Penn State and Ohio State, it was between the former and Pac-12 champion Washington:
“We looked at a lot of things,”Hocutt told ESPN.“We looked at two conference championship teams. … We looked at one-loss Washington — that loss being against a top-10 opponent — compared to a two-loss Penn State team — one loss they were not competitive in that particular game, the other loss was to an 8-4 team. We talked about strength of schedule. Obviously, strength of schedule favored Penn State. Had Washington had a stronger strength of schedule, I don’t think the conversation and discussion would have been as difficult.
Penn State’s glaring blemishes include a 49-10 beating at the hands of Michigan in Ann Arbor in the fourth game of the season.
The other is the loss “to an 8-4 team” Hocutt is talking about, which was a three-point loss to Pittsburgh in the second game of the year, a non-conference loss that wouldn’t have seemed detrimental at the time but cost the Nittany Lions a Playoff spot.
Still, Washington deserves to be in and that shouldn’t be up for debate — they are their conference’s champions.
In that same respect, so should Penn State.
The selection committee has been wish-washy about what constitutes the “best” teams in the nation and while history tells us they like to watch conference champions play, apparently they can make exceptions.
Ohio State had a few things in their favor, like strength of schedule, and I can live with that. They aren’t a bad team to be in the Playoff but it doesn’t make sense to me that you can be considered one of the best teams in the nation without even playing for your conference’s title.
Had Penn State been in the CFP with no conference championship and a head-to-head loss to Ohio State, wouldn’t more people be upset that the Buckeyes were snubbed?
Apparently winning your conference’s championship doesn’t make you your conference’s best team.
There’s a lot of factors that go into making a “great” team, but a conference title should be a huge part of it, and the selection committee showed us it’s a mere footnote.
Ohio State just proved that and Penn State will have to settle because of it.