Committee has tough decisions to make

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first_imgCollege football is obsessed with records. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it isn’t a good one either. At times, it can cloud someone’s vision and allow one to overlook the talent and current play of a team just because of its record. Other times, focusing on records completely makes sense. I know what you’re thinking; she’s probably talking about USC. I am, but Penn State also falls into the same discussion. After beating Michigan this past Saturday, it seems like Ohio State is a lock for the playoff. Last week, both the AP and the College Football Playoff rankings mirrored each other. This week, the AP has Ohio State sitting at No. 2, so one could reasonably guess that the Buckeyes will hold that spot for the CFP.So that looks good for the Big Ten, right? Wrong. The Big Ten is in an interesting situation. The Buckeyes are sitting at No. 2 in the nation with an 11-1 overall record, so that means they’re playing in the conference championship, right? Wrong, again. Facing off for the conference title for the Big Ten will be Penn State and Wisconsin. Both teams are sitting at 10-2, and Penn State has a bit of an advantage with its win over Ohio State thanks to a blocked field goal that was returned for a touchdown toward the end of the fourth quarter. The CFP Committee always talks about how they like conference champions, but with Ohio State as the likely candidate for the second spot in the playoff, that goes against what they typically like. If Penn State ends up beating Wisconsin, they will have a viable shot at the playoff, because Ohio State’s only loss was at the hand of the Nittany Lions. It’s a mess, and the committee could have one heck of a headache going into the release of its rankings on Sunday. While a 11-2 conference champion looks great and is more or less a dream team for the committee based on rankings alone, it isn’t really better than an 11-1 team with quality wins throughout the season. What makes this whole Big Ten debacle even more interesting is that the first protocol — according to the CFP committee selection protocol — is winning a conference championship. The other three are strength of schedule, head-to-head competition (if possible) and outcomes of common opponents (without considering margin of victory). Looking at the committee’s protocol from their standpoint, a Wisconsin win will make their lives easier. Now, what about USC? Its chances of making the playoff are virtually impossible. Just imagine how many people would freak out if a three-loss team made it to the playoff. While the Trojans won’t see themselves playing in one of the semifinals, they could still see themselves playing at the Rose Bowl, somewhere they haven’t played since 2009. USC has played in the most Rose Bowls (33) and has won the most Rose Bowls (24) of any college program. With the Trojans back in the national discussion and a number of analysts, such as Kirk Herbstreit, saying that USC is the one team that no one wants to play right now, other than Alabama. He also made the argument that if the CFP is looking for the best teams that USC should be higher. Vegas even has the Trojans as the No. 3 team in the country. The Trojans’ success makes the case that the playoff should be expanded. An expansion would allow for teams like USC that started their season rough but have completely flipped the script to close out the year. The Trojans that upset No. 4 Washington 26-13 and have handily outscored their rivals 81-41 are nowhere near the team that started its season 1-3 with losses to Alabama, Stanford and Utah. If the committee wants the best teams playing for a championship, a team like USC fits the bill. Through their eight-game win streak, the Trojans have beaten everyone except Colorado by double digits. A surging USC team following a shaky start brings back memories of Pete Carroll’s 2002 Trojans. That season, USC started out 3-2, but finished 11-2 on the back of senior quarterback Carson Palmer. Palmer performed so well that he caught national attention and won the Heisman Trophy, USC’s first quarterback to do so. The Trojans finished No. 5 in the BCS and beat No. 3 Iowa in the Orange Bowl, 38-17. There are a number of similarities between the 2002 season and this season, such as dominating victories over UCLA and Notre Dame and a quarterback garnering national attention. If the similarities continue, the Trojans could see themselves in the Rose Bowl instead of the Orange Bowl. On top of it, USC would set a foundation for national championships for years to come, cementing it as a national powerhouse once again. Jodee Storm Sullivan is a junior majoring in broadcast and digital journalism. Her column, “The Storm Report,” ran Tuesdays.last_img

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