Panel's playoff picks came down to Washington vs. Penn State

The national championship game will be January 9 in Tampa.

And while some assumed that the team, along with their head coach James Franklin, would be upset about missing the playoffs despite winning the Big Ten Championship and beating third-ranked Ohio State, Franklin gave a humbling speech regarding the snub to ESPN.

— Boise State and Baylor meet December 27 at Cactus Bowl in Phoenix.

The final spot came down to Penn State (11-2) and Pac-12 champion Washington.

In the AP and the CFP, Michigan (10-2) came in at No. 6, giving the Big Ten East Division three teams in the top six. Both programs are making their second appearance in the College Football Playoff. Penn State sophomore Trace McSorley has been outstanding during the Nittany Lions' unbeaten run, culminating against Wisconsin with a brilliant 384-yard, four-touchdown performance, his most prolific of the season. "It's on you now, the committee".

Regarding uniforms, the Buckeyes will be rocking a similar version to the one they donned when they won the national championship in the inaugural College Football Playoffs just two short years ago in the 2014 Sugar Bowl.

"It was detailed, it was hard conversation", CFP committee chairman Kirby Hocutt said on ESPN.

Instead Penn State (ranked fifth), MI (sixth) and Wisconsin (eighth) are on the outside, but that is not such a bad thing. The Dec. 30 game is an attractive appetizer for the national semifinals the next day and Harbaugh's absence from the kickoff teleconference was bitterly disappointing, one might say. Or it could mean the highest rated team by the CFP Selection Committee. "And that is to select the four very best teams in college football". But these No. 5 Nittany Lions are going to the Rose Bowl against No. 9 USC, and that should hardly be considered a disappointment.

Penn State has two losses - a three-point loss to Pitt in addition to a 39-point loss to MI. While Clemson is ranked second and Ohio State third in the Playoff top 25, the two teams are flipped in this week's re-rank: Ohio State is No. 2 and the Tigers are No. 3. In years when they do not participate, they will feature the best available teams from the SEC and the Big 12. The Crimson Tide also played in three of the last five title games of the old Bowl Championship Series system, meaning that, under coach Nick Saban, the team has been in contention for the national championship in six of the last eight years. But he's going to have to play well under pressure: Ohio State's defense has produced a quarterback pressure on 51.1 percent of pass plays in the last three games. So is Penn State. At some point, the fair thing to do is take a team like that, because those are largely the attributes Penn State fans are asking the committee to understand about their team.

"Sometimes you got to be careful what you wish for", Washington coach Chris Petersen said on ESPN. On Saturday, the Nittany Lions reversed a 21-point deficit to defeat Wisconsin 38-31 and win its first outright Big Ten championship since 1994. "I think you can make arguments a lot of different ways based on your perspective".

For better or worse, the message is this: two losses weigh more heavily than conference crowns or schedule strength.

Barrett has deflected criticism of the passing game, noting Ohio State's success is partly linked to its ability to take what defenses provide. Washington's only loss was to a top-10 USC team, although its lousy strength of schedule in nonconference (Rutgers, Idaho, Portland State) dogged the Huskies until the end. Don't tell us conference championship games matter.

"Had Washington had a stronger strength of schedule", Hocutt said, "I don't think the conversation would have been as hard".

Alabama (13-0), after its 54-16 blowout of Florida in the Southeastern Conference championship game on Saturday, remained the unanimous No. 1.

The selection committee is also responsible for choosing the teams which play in the Cotton, Fiesta and Peach Bowls in years those bowls are not hosting the semifinal games.

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