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Championship Weekend: The Road to Penn State in a New Year's Sixth Bowl (if that's your case)

It seems like a short time ago when I wasted hours breaking down Penn State's way to a Big Ten…

It seems like a short time ago when I wasted hours breaking down Penn State’s way to a Big Ten East title after the Ohio State game. It was fun while it lasted for a few hours, but Penn State ended 9-3 and took Jim Harbaugh’s place as third-party finisher in the division. Now it’s the Championship Weekend for college football and the games themselves do not have the same feeling. With several lopsided divisions in Power Five conferences, there are only a few games about the needle.

Penn State checked in at No. 12 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings on Tuesday and will need some help this weekend if they want to land in a new year’s six bowl for the third consecutive year. These scenarios assume that Clemson beats Pitt (as Penn State defeated 51

-6) in the ACC Championship. The Pac-12 Championship game winner is on his way to Rose Bowl so the track is locked. At the heart of time, we will choose Washington to win as a 5.5-point favorite over Utah Utes.

Scenario # 1 – Georgia falls from top 4 and replaced by Oklahoma

  • Alabama beats Georgia
  • Ohio State beats Northwestern
  • Oklahoma beats Texas
  • Washington beats Utah
  • Clemson beats the team as Penn State beat 51-6

This scenario would not be good for Penn State landing in New Year’s sixth. If Oklahoma wins and Georgia is not within the 13.5-point spread, Oklahoma could enter the College Football Playoff. It would leave just three big places and it’s not going well for Penn State. The sugar bowl would then take the next highest Big-12 team to fill a gap as long as they are in the top 20 in the ranking so Texas or West Virginia would fill that spot.

RLR Forecasts in Scenario # 1

  • CFB Playoff: Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame and Oklahoma
  • Sugar Bowl: West Virginia vs Georgia
  • Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. Washington
  • Fiesta Bowl: UCF vs LSU
  • Peach Bowl: Michigan vs Florida

Scenario # 2: Georgia Drops from Top 4 and Replaced by Ohio State

This would be ideal for Penn State to enter the New Year’s sex. It would take Oklahoma, just stopping Texas from the Big-12 Championship game and Ohio State, channeling its beatdown of Wisconsin in the 2014 Big Ten Title game. If we look at the full CV, Ohio State is more impressive than Oklahoma. Ohio State’s loss last season to Iowa held them out of the playoffs and this year they have a huge loss for Purdue, but their winnings are much better than Sooners. In this case, Michigan would go to Rose Bowl and Oklahoma would be for sugar sauce.

RLR Projections in Scenario # 2

  • CFB Playoff: Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame, Ohio State
  • Sugar Bowl: Oklahoma vs Georgia
  • Rose Bowl: Michigan vs Washington
  • Fiesta Bowl: LSU vs. UCF
  • Peach Bowl: PENN STATE vs. Florida

Scenario # 3: Georgia beats Alabama in SEC Championship Game

This is what seems unlikely but not impossible. Alabama seems to be a lock for the playoff, regardless of the outcome, but should they lose and fall out of the playoffs, see the scenarios one or two. If the Bulldogs can pull this off and Alabama gets a lower seed, this would also benefit Penn State on landing in New Years Six. With both of these teams in the playoff, it would support Florida up to the automatic SEC bid for Sugar Bowl, which would clear up a big bid that would certainly be filled by Penn State.

RLR Forecasts in Scenario # 3

  • CFB Playoff: Clemson, Georgia, Notre Dame, Alabama
  • Sugar Bowl: Florida vs Oklahoma
  • Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. Washington
  • Fiesta Bowl: Michigan vs UCF
  • Peach Bowl: LSU vs. PENN STATE

Scenario # 4: Alabama beats Georgia, but the state is the same

If Georgia loses a close to Alabama, there is a chance that they will stay in the four best. Although this seems unlikely with two single-loss teams behind them, never underestimate the love of the SEC. This scenario would play something like above, but let’s mix it up for our purposes.

RLR Forecasts in Scenario # 4

  • CFB Playoff: Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame, Georgia
  • Sugar Bowl: Florida vs Oklahoma
  • Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. Washington
  • Fiesta Bowl: PENN STATE vs. UCF
  • Peach Bowl: Michigan vs LSU

Scenario # 5: Money Talks

This is roughly like a scenario above, but ultimately the people who choose these bowl matches have money. Ticket sales and TV ratings drive the train so that a little injustice to a three-loss team is no skin of the back as long as the pockets are lined with money. Even this seems unlikely, but if there is anyone on a bowl committee that feels like Penn State can generate more revenue than Florida or LSU all efforts are turned off. In this case, I use Oklahoma as the playoff team, but it is interchangeable with them, Ohio State or Georgia for these purposes.

RLR Projections in Scenario # 5

  • CFB Playoff: Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame, Oklahoma
  • Sugar Bowl: Georgia vs WVU
  • Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. Washington
  • Fiesta Bowl: Michigan vs UCF
  • Peach Bowl: PENN STATE vs LSU or Florida

In the end, Penn State’s bowling game will be in Florida, Arizona or Georgia. The Citrus Bowl against Kentucky seems to be the odds of favorite heading this weekend. The fun is that this season has many parallels to the 1998 season when Penn State took on Kentucky and future # 1 pickes Tim Couch in Outback Bowl. The couch went first overall in 1999 NFL Draft, while Outback Bowl MVP Courtney Brown went No. 1 in the 2000 NFL Draft. Penn State had three conference losses this season and picked up his 9th win by defeating Wildcats.

Championship weekend may not have the juice and excitement of a weekend like this, but there is a lot to keep up with when Penn State is available. The two losses to Ohio State and Michigan State defined this season so that all Nittany Lions can do is lean back. We’ll all do the same, I guess.

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Faela