Penn State football fans seem to be looking upon the recently snubbed Ohio State Buckeyes with absolute delight and a feeling of payback, or with caution in what might look like a weak Big Ten in the eyes of the committee.
The truth is that the Big Ten has not been glanced over as an inferior conference. The fact of the matter is that without that stunning blowout loss in Iowa City, the Buckeyes would be in the playoff. It’s pretty obvious that they would be headed to a College Football Playoff game in that case — with only a loss to Oklahoma and a Big Ten Championship, the Buckeyes would’ve fit right in with Clemson, Georgia, and Oklahoma. Kirby Hocutt even said it himself:
Kirby Hocutt: "Ohio State with one loss built one of the best resumes in the country against one of the toughest schedules in the country."
— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) December 4, 2016
These three one-loss teams even had worse losses than Ohio State’s defeat at the hands of the Sooners. Clemson’s loss to Syracuse, Georgia’s 40-17 loss to Auburn, and Oklahoma’s loss to Iowa State don’t quite compare to losing to the No. 2 team in the land.
The loss to Iowa is what dug the grave for Ohio State’s playoff chances.
— Hawk Central (@hawkcentral) December 3, 2017
And the same rules applied to Penn State last year. Simply put, a win over Pitt would’ve been enough for the Nittany Lions to sneak into the playoff with just one loss and a win over a top-four team. James Franklin’s squad had faced a much more difficult schedule than Washington, but the Huskies had just one loss and it wasn’t a blowout. The combination of a two-loss record and an embarrassing performance in Ann Arbor kept the Lions out.
There's a simple way to get into the playoff, and it applied to Penn State last year, too: Don't lose twice, and don't get blown out.
— Matt Brown (@MattBrownCFB) December 3, 2017
Finally, Wisconsin had every opportunity to cement its spot in the playoff with a win over Ohio State. This year, the Big Ten Championship was a CFP play-in game for the Badgers, but they couldn’t get it done. That aspect is absolutely indicative of the strength of the Big Ten. If an undefeated or one-loss team can take home the Big Ten Championship, they’re in. What more could you ask for as a proponent of Big Ten football?
What we learned from the committee is that a team cannot lose two games and get blown out in one of them and still hope to make it into the final four. It’s also pretty clear that the Big Ten is in a terrific place in the eyes of the committee.