In this story:
Ohio State Buckeyes
Penn State Nittany Lions
As final bowl selections hang in the balance during conference championship week, all eyes will be on the top four teams in the College Football Playoff rankings. A loss by any of them—particularly from No. 3 TCU or No. 4 USC—could open the door for No. 5 Ohio State to slip into the playoff field despite its resounding loss to No. 2 Michigan in the regular season finale.
But if the Buckeyes don’t end up getting a shot at the national title, a return trip to the Rose Bowl is no guarantee.
According to The Athletic‘s Stewart Mandel and Nicole Auerbach, the Granddaddy of Them All is strongly considering No. 8 Penn State as its Big Ten selection even if Ohio State falls short of the playoff.
Historically, when the Big Ten champion is unavailable to participate in the Rose Bowl, the game has chosen the next-highest ranked Big Ten team in its place. However, bowl officials are not required to do so, and they can instead opt for a lower-ranked team if the teams are ranked within “several spots of each other,” and that team would create the “best possible matchup for the Rose Bowl game.”
Ohio State beat Utah in the Rose Bowl last season, and has appeared in two of the past four Rose Bowls. Penn State last appeared in the Rose Bowl following the 2016 season. Ohio State beat Penn State, 44-31, at Beaver Stadium on Oct. 29.