Giger: Facts simply don’t back up Penn State’s Rose Bowl snub
It takes just two words to explain Penn State getting snubbed for the Rose Bowl.
This really isn’t complicated, and anyone who tells you otherwise is fooling themselves.
That goes for the College Football Playoff selection committee, which botched this thing.
It’s simple math, really. I know, I know, most Americans hate math, but this is REALLY easy math.
Here we go:
n Which number is higher: 3 or 2? Wisconsin (10-3) has three losses. Penn State (10-2) has two.
n Which number is higher: 11 or 13 (or 31)? Penn State lost at Ohio State, one of the toughest venues in the country, by 11 points (28-17). Wisconsin lost there by 31 points (38-7). In Saturday’s rematch on a neutral field in the Big Ten championship game, Wisconsin lost by 13 points (34-21).
n The Buckeyes scored nearly as many points in the second half Saturday against Wisconsin (27) as they did in the entire game against PSU (28), and again, they hosted the Lions at the Horseshoe.
n Penn State’s 11-point margin of defeat was the smallest by any Ohio State opponent.
n PSU was the only team to hold the Buckeyes below 30 points.
n Granted, Wisconsin played two strong quarters Saturday and led the Buckeyes 21-7 at the break. But in the other six quarters they played during two games, Ohio State annihilated the Badgers by a total of 65-7.
Don’t all of those Buckeye-related factors favor Penn State in a head-to-head comparison with Wisconsin?
Of course they do.
Which is why Wisconsin getting picked for the Rose Bowl over Penn State is bogus.
Time for point No. 2.
Wins matter when comparing two teams. But losses also have to matter. They must matter a great deal, in fact, and not be altogether pushed aside, which is what happened here.
Wisconsin lost to a mediocre Illinois team. The Illini finished 6-6, but they won at home against the Badgers, 24-23, on Oct. 19. Yeah, Illinois improved this year, but then it ended the regular season losing to an awful Northwestern squad that came in with a 2-9 record.
The CFP selection committee downright gave Wisconsin a free pass on that loss to Illinois.
There’s no other way to explain it.
Instead of punishing the Badgers for a third loss against a mediocre team, the committee just let that slide.
Yes, Wisconsin won at Minnesota in a rout, 38-17, and Penn State lost there. But PSU had a chance in the final minute of that 31-26 loss to the Gophers, and there is no doubt that a close road loss to a 10-2 Minnesota team is still light years better than a loss to Illinois.
A 10-2 Penn State team that played Ohio State close and didn’t lose to Illinois absolutely, unequivocally, 100 percent deserved to go to the Rose Bowl more than a 10-3 Wisconsin team that did lose to Illinois.
So, how and why did the committee mess this up?
Here’s my theory, and it’s very simple.
Penn State was just in the Rose Bowl three years ago, losing to USC on Jan. 2, 2017.
Do you know where Wisconsin played on that exact same day? The Cotton Bowl, beating Western Michigan.
In an effort to switch things up and not have teams and their fan bases go back to the same location again so soon, decisions were made that would put Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl and Penn State in the Cotton Bowl this time around.
That’s my conspiracy theory, and I’m sticking to it.
Cory Giger can be reached at email@example.com.