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The Big Ten Dilemma

By: Connor Barry. The College Football Season is winding down with conference championship berths on the line. Fifth ranked Washington will face rival Washington State for a chance to play in the Pac 12 Championship as well as keeping Playoff hopes alive. #2 Clemson squares off with South Carolina. With a ACC Championship game locked for December, the Tigers will just need to win out in order to return to the College Football Playoff. Alabama, the team that defeated the Tigers in the National Championship last year face Auburn, also just needing to win out in order to return to a third straight playoff.

But this Saturday, all eyes will be on Columbus for the clash of the titans between Michigan and Ohio State. This showdown between #2 and #3 will clear most things up regarding who’s in and out of the playoff, except there’s one problem. Both teams have suffered a loss. Ohio State lost to Penn State in Happy Valley last month and Michigan recently fell to Iowa two weeks ago. A Michigan victory would automatically send the Wolverines to the Big Ten Championship game. But Ohio State bests, they would not be automatically in the Big Ten Championship. They would need an upstart Penn State team to lose to a three win Michigan State. It’s not likely that Michigan State, who has fallen apart this year, will be able to pull it off.

So if Ohio State and Penn State both win, how would the committee handle this scenario. The only team I would consider a lock in the Playoff if they win out would be Alabama. So who takes the next three spots? A Penn State vs Wisconsin affair in the Big Ten Championship would still be a good one. Both teams are respectively ranked by the Playoff committee. If Penn State is crowned as the Big Ten champ, we have our first two loss playoff team ever. But if Wisconsin wins, I don’t believe they have a good enough resume to be a playoff team. Two conference losses and having LSU as your biggest win won’t be enough. That would bring Ohio State back in the equation. With Alabama and Penn State as teams in the Playoff in this scenario, you have to look at the resumes of Clemson, Washington, and the winner of Oklahoma & Oklahoma State. Clemson has the strongest resume despite their performances against North Carolina State and Pittsburgh, but with wins against Louisville and Auburn, no other team has wins that compare to those of Clemson. For Washington to get in, they need to win the Pac 12 and hope for a Michigan win or Penn State loss. They have a solid team, but the east coast favored committee would likely take two Big Ten teams over a Pac 12 champion.

Here are the scenarios:

Michigan/Ohio State defeats Wisconsin

1. Alabama

2. Michigan/Ohio State

3. Clemson

4. Washington

Wisconsin defeats Michigan/Penn State

1. Alabama

2. Clemson

3. Washington

4. Ohio State

Penn State defeats Wisconsin

1. Alabama

2. Ohio State

3. Clemson

4. Penn State

Wisconsin defeats Ohio State

1. Alabama

2. Clemson

3. Washington

4. Wisconsin

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