Heading into week 12 of the 2017 season, the Penn State Nittany Lions are looking to improve their resume as much as they possibly can before the College Football Playoff Committee releases its final rankings after week 14. With two opponents left in the regular season, Penn State is hoping to have a three-game post season by attending the Big Ten Championship Game and making it to the College Football Playoff finals.
After losing narrowly in back-to-back weeks to Ohio State and Michigan State, the Nittany Lions are looking to gain “style points” in their matchups with Nebraska and Maryland. Penn State seemed to take out their frustrations of those losses to the Buckeyes and Spartans on Rutgers last week by beating the Scarlet Knights 35-6, but you are mistaken if you think the Nittany Lions are satisfied with that. Expect Penn State to continue to take out their frustrations on their remaining opponents in order to impress the committee enough to rank them in their top four, securing their place in the College Football Playoff semi-finals.
With an 8-2 record at this point, Penn State comes in at number 10 on the most recent CFP rankings, behind Big Ten foes Wisconsin at fifth and Ohio State at ninth. The Nittany Lions come in at 45 on the strength of schedule, 14 on strength of record, third on game control and third in FPI with a rating of 23.5. Before losing to no. six Ohio State 39-38 and no. 24 Michigan State 27-24, Penn State gained a 42-13 victory over no. 19 Michigan. Currently, Penn State sits in second-place in the Big Ten East standings with only Ohio State standing in their way of making the Big Ten Championship game.
What about Penn State’s signature moment on the season, the moment that everyone can look at and say that is the defining moment of the Nittany Lions’ season? At this point, Penn State’s defining moment came in week four at Iowa, according to ESPN’s Mitch Sherman. The play was a fourth-and-goal, down on the seven-yard line. With an undefeated record on the line, quarterback Trace McSorley was able to throw the ball past Hawkeye defenders to find Juwan Johnson in the end zone, allowing Penn State to walk out of Iowa City the victors of the game.
The most beneficial scenario for Penn State would be to win out the regular season and see both Ohio State and Michigan State take a loss within the next two weeks. That would allow the Nittany Lions to walk into the Big Ten Championship game as the Big Ten East champions. However, that scenario is unlikely. Head coach James Franklin, and all of Happy Valley for that matter, will need to hope that they have same luck with the committee that Ohio State experienced last year. Although the Buckeyes did not win the Big Ten title, nor did they even play in the championship game, Ohio State still made it into the committee’s top four final top four, giving them a playoff berth. This seems to be the best option that the Nittany Lions have at this point in time. Given last week’s outcome of games, anything is possible in college football.
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