Say what you will about James Franklin’s in-game management or the benefit of not playing any of the best teams from the Big Ten’s West division, but a pretty good 10-2 Nittany Lions team will ride a big win over Michigan State to the 2016 Big Ten Championship Game.
By beating the Spartans, PSU clinches a share of the Big Ten East division crown along with Ohio State but will head to Indianapolis in lieu of the Buckeyes by virtue of their come from behind head-to-head win over the Bucks.
Though Ohio State beat Michigan, a team that beat Penn State by 39 points, OSU failing to hold on to a lead on the road in State College will prohibit Urban Meyer from winning his second Big Ten conference crown in five years at the helm of OSU. He’ll have to settle for a possible College Football Playoff berth.
Should Penn State prevail over the Big Ten West’s champions, Wisconsin, the playoff committee will have a difficult decision on their hands. The CFP’s rather short two year precedent says conference championships are as valuable of a tiebreaker as exists, but Ohio State went 11-1 in the regular season while Penn State has two-losses, the blowout loss to Michigan and a loss to four-loss in-state rival Pitt.
Is two-losses with a head to head victory more valuable than 11-1 with a win over won of the teams that beat the one that defeated you? We’ll find out Sunday, December 4 when the College Football Playoff unveil the four teams set to participate in the 2016-17 playoff.