By Harry Allison
Penn State rose to No. 10 in the newest edition of the College Football Playoff rankings, up from No. 14 last week.
Alabama took the top spot after surviving at Mississippi State, while Clemson moved up to No. 2. Miami and Oklahoma filled out the top four. Georgia — previously the No. 1 team in the country — dropped to No. 7 after a blowout loss to Auburn, now No. 6. The Fighting Irish tumbled to No. 8.
CBS Sports projects the Nittany Lions and Notre Dame playing in the Cotton Bowl, while Sports Illustrated has Penn State facing Mississippi State in the Citrus Bowl.
Penn State is now the third-most-likely Big Ten representative for the Orange Bowl after Ohio State blew the doors off Michigan State 48-3 in Columbus over the weekend. With three losses, Sparty is done.
The Orange Bowl takes the highest-ranked non-playoff team from the Big Ten, SEC and Notre Dame to face an ACC opponent.
But there is a chance — however small — that Penn State becomes the conference’s most attractive option. A lot would have to happen, but let’s have some fun here.
If Michigan defeats No. 5 Wisconsin and No. 9 Ohio State to close the regular season, there’ll be a four-way tie in the Big Ten East. The first tiebreaker here is record against the other teams. In this situation — should the Wolverines, Nittany Lions and Spartans win out and the Buckeyes beat Illinois — Ohio State and Michigan State would have 2-1 records against tiebreaker teams, while Michigan and Penn State sit there at 1-2.
Ohio State and Michigan State move on to the two-team tiebreaker, which is head-to-head. In this situation, a 9-3 Buckeyes squad would represent the Big Ten East in Indianapolis.