Bowl Scenarios: Penn State Fan's Rooting Guide for Championship Weekend

By John Morgan on December 4, 2019 at 11:45 am
January 2, 2017; Pasadena, CA, USA; General view of B-2 bomber fly over before the Southern California Trojans play against the Penn State Nittany Lions in the Rose Bowl.
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
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The last few weeks we have taken a look at the potential scenarios and how they would impact Penn State's postseason destination. After the latest College Football Playoff Rankings were released on Tuesday, Penn State remained at No. 10. Here is a guide for Penn State fans to follow heading into Championship Weekend.

College Football Playoff

Penn State has no chance for the playoff, but here is what to look for in determining the College Football Playoff teams. Ohio State and LSU are likely in even with a loss. Now if both were to lose, it could get dicey for one of them. Clemson should win in a landslide and are probably the safest bet to make the playoff. At No. 4 is Georgia who would be in the playoff with a win in the SEC Championship game. Should 1-3 win, it will come down to No. 5 Utah or No. 6 Oklahoma. The Sooners may have an advantage if the can win as they face No. 7 Baylor in the Big-12 Championship game, where Utah is facing No. 13 Oregon. We will dig deeper into these scenarios below.

Rose Bowl

In the scenario Ohio State wins, the Big Ten representative in the Rose Bowl becomes either Penn State and Wisconsin. The Badgers came in at No. 8 in the latest rankings with a 10-2 record so here's a look at the Big Ten teams with two losses or less.

Big Ten
Team Scenario
Ohio State If Ohio State wins, they are in the CFP. Should they lose, they still have a good chance to make the playoff, but their worse case scenario would be the Rose Bowl.
Wisconsin If Wisconsin can win, they will be in the Rose Bowl. If they give OSU a close game, they could also end up in Pasedena, even with three losses.
Penn State The Nittany Lions fate for Pasadena rests with outcome of the Big Ten Championship game. Should the Buckeyes win convincingly, Penn State could pass Wisconsin in the final rankings. If the Badgers play a tight game, they may not slip behind Penn State even with a third loss.
Minnesota The Golden Gophers took a big hit in the rankings on Tuesday when they slipped to No. 18. Three-loss Michigan (14) and Iowa (16) now sit above them in the rankings. The clock has struck twelve for the Cinderella Gophers as the committee has pretty much decided they will be looking a a non-New Year's Six Bowl.

New Year’s Six

As of last week, both the Orange Bowl and Cotton Bowl were in play for Penn State. Last week, the Nittany Lions jumped ahead of Florida and looked to be a safe bet to the Orange Bowl if the Rose Bowl didn't happen. On Tuesday, the Gators jumped back ahead of the Nittany Lions and are ranked No. 9. With the help of an Auburn win, Florida's win over the Tigers improved their resume. Their proximity to the Orange Bowl couldn't have hurt here either because money talks.

Now, Penn State looks to have just the Cotton Bowl as their other potential New Year's Six Bowl if Wisconsin ends up in the Rose Bowl, but some scenarios remain for an Orange Bowl appearance.

The Others
Team Scenario
LSU The undefeated Tigers face Georgia and even with a loss, could take the 4 seed in the final CFP. They would need Ohio State and Clemson to win and would have an argument to remain in the playoff.
Georgia The Bulldogs will be in the playoff with a win. In the event that they win and LSU makes the playoff, the Orange Bowl would open back up for Penn State if they aren't in the Rose Bowl. Should they lose, they would likely take the SEC's Sugar Bowl spot.
Florida As mentioned, the No. 9 Gators are in the drivers seat for the Orange Bowl. They could slide up to the Sugar Bowl with two SEC teams in the playoff and that would open a spot for Penn State, Wisconsin or Alabama.
Alabama The Crimson Tide are on the outside looking in. It seems the only way they get into a NY6 Bowl would be for two SEC teams to make the playoff. In that scenario, the Cotton would seem more likely as they sit idle, but again, $$.
Oklahoma With a win, the Sooners would be right in the thick of things for the CFP. If they win and don't make the playoffs, they will represent the Big-12 in the Sugar Bowl. Should they lose, they could remain in the Top 10 and would then be slated for the Cotton Bowl.
Baylor Sitting at No. 7 in the rankings, the playoff seems like a long shot for Matt Rhule's team. If they can beat Oklahoma, they would head to the Sugar Bowl. Should they lose, Penn State or Wisconsin would want to see them fall out of the Top 10 to free up a potential Cotton Bowl spot.
Utah The Utes moved up to No. 5 and with a win in the Pac-12 Championship, they would either be in the playoff or the Rose Bowl. Should they lose, they could still end up ahead of Penn State or Wisconsin and take the Cotton Bowl spot.
Oregon If the Ducks can win, they will head to the Rose Bowl. Should they lose, they would be looking at the Alamo or Holiday Bowl.
Clemson Like last week, if Clemson wins, they are in the playoff. If they lose, they will be heading to the Orange Bowl. If the Tigers lose, it could shake up the playoff and potentially open up a Cotton Bowl spot for an at-large team.
Group of Five No. 17 Memphis has a rematch with No. 20 Cincinnati in the AAC Championship game. Memphis won last week and if they win again, would be in the Cotton Bowl. Should they lose, Cincinnati, No. 19 Boise State and No. 21 Appalachian State would all be in the hunt for that coveted NY6 Bowl spot.

Tuesday night's rankings were not great for Penn State as compared to a week ago. The combination of Wisconsin's win over Minnesota and Auburn's win over Alabama not only helped the Badgers, but gave Florida a better quality win.

What Should Penn State Fan's Root for?

This is going to be tough to stomach for some fans, but if your looking to avoid watching the Nittany Lions in the Outback Bowl, here is your cheat sheet:

  • Big Ten Championship Game: Ohio State beats Wisconsin by a lot. More than 11 might do the trick, but Nittany Lions fans might want to err on the side of caution and pull for the Buckeyes to easily cover the 16.5 point spread.
  • Big-12 Championship Game: Oklahoma beating Baylor comfortably. In their first game, Oklahoma overcame what seemed like a million mistakes, but Penn State fans would want Baylor out of the Top 10 in the event the Cotton Bowl is in play.
  • SEC Championship Game: In terms of a New Year's Six Bowl, Penn State fans should root for Georgia to possibly open up an Orange Bowl spot. That would likely mean two SEC teams in the playoff and that could be a tough pill for some fans to swallow.
  • Pac-12 Championship Game: This one is a little more complex because if Penn State makes the Rose Bowl, it comes down to a matter of preference for the opponent in that game. If you want to see Utah in the Rose Bowl, root for them to win and not make the playoff. If you would prefer to see Oregon, then the Ducks are your team. Since that game is Friday, there is no way to know how the other chips may fall, but if Oregon wins, Utah could take that Cotton Bowl spot so there's no clear cut way to determine for Nittany Lion fans.
  • ACC Championship Game: Clemson should win easily so discussing any further than above is a waste of time.

The worse case scenario remains the Outback Bowl/TaxSlayer Bowl since the Nittany Lions were in the Citrus Bowl a season ago. Penn State must just sit back and wait as their fate will be determined Sunday afternoon.

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