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Penn State to the Playoff? College Football Expert Predicts PSU to Make it Without Winning Big Ten

Penn State ranking James Franklin Franco Harris
Penn State Athletics

For Penn State to make it to the College Football Playoff, it will have to win the Big Ten, right?

No so, according to one college football expert.

Josh Pate, a respected college football media personality who works in many capacities but is probably best known for hosting the Late Kick Podcast, has Ohio State beating out Michigan and Penn State for the Big Ten East championship and then winning the conference championship game. 

He has OSU as the No. 1 team in the country heading into what would be its sixth Playoff appearance in 10 seasons. But what will interest Penn State fans about this is that their favorite team is the one Pate has Ohio State playing in the semifinals. Pate has the playoff shaping up like this.

No. 1: Big Ten Champion Ohio State

No. 2: SEC Champion Alabama 

No. 3: PAC 12 (RIP after 2023) Champion Oregon

No. 4: At-Large Penn State

At-large bids don’t always happen in the College Football Playoff. The first at-large bid took place in 2016. It’s still a sore subject for plenty of Penn State fans. Despite beating Ohio State and winning the Big Ten, the Buckeyes, who had one fewer loss than PSU snuck into the College Football Playoff. Penn State was the first team out. There have been just four other instances of a team making the playoff despite not winning the conference championship. These are Alabama (2017), Notre Dame (2020), Georgia (2021) and Ohio State again (2022).

There will be more room for at-large bids starting in 2024 when the playoff expands to 12 teams. When that happens, Penn State’s expected to show up frequently.

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