Penn State, book your tickets to Indianapolis. And Ohio State? Try to figure out whether you’re happy or sad over this development.
Coming into Week 13, Penn State needed a win over Michigan State and an Ohio State win over Michigan to stake its claim to the Big Ten East title. In Columbus, the Buckeyes took care of the first half of the equation. In Happy Valley, the Nittany Lions easily took care of the second half, pulling away from the Spartans in an impressive 45-12 win.
While both PSU and OSU finish conference play at 8-1 — UM ended up 7-2 — the Nittany Lions own the head-to-head tiebreaker, meaning it’s James Franklin‘s squad that will represent the East in the Big Ten championship game. Penn State will face West winner Wisconsin at Lucas Oil Stadium next Saturday in what will likely be a matchup of Top Six teams.
This marks the first-ever division title in the program’s (mostly independent) history. They will be looking to win their first conference championship since 2008. The Nittany Lions have won a total of three Big Ten titles since joining the league for the 1993 season.
While OSU will not be playing for a conference championship, the second-ranked Buckeyes could be sitting in one of the four catbird’s seat when it comes to the College Football Playoff.
With the win over Michigan, Ohio State now owns three wins over teams currently ranked in the Top 10 of the CFP rankings — with two of those coming on the road — and another that’s ranked 16th. Such a résumé is expected to sit well with the playoff committee, despite said résumé lacking a league title on it. More than likely, OSU will need to root for Wisconsin, which they beat earlier this year on the road, to beat PSU in Indy next weekend to provide them a little playoff cushion. Another help for OSU, and the B1G champ for that matter? Clemson and/or Washington losing in their respective conference championship games.
If Penn State wins a Power Five championship, however, it’s going to get extremely interesting on multiple fronts when the committee releases its final set of rankings in a little over a week. Especially if Oklahoma State drops Oklahoma in Bedlam next weekend. Or Clemson or washington stumbles. In other words, we’re still, despite 13 weeks nearly in the books, a long way from deciding the four semifinalists.
God bless the playoffs.