Kirk Herbstreit: An 11-1 Penn State Could Still Be In The Playoff Mix If The Favorites Win Out

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ESPN college football expert Kirk Herbstreit thinks Penn State could still make the playoff with a loss to Ohio State.

The Nittany Lions will play Minnesota this weekend, and they have a highly-anticipated matchup with OSU on Nov. 23.

I asked Herbstreit on Wednesday afternoon during a media call if the Nittany Lions would still be in the hunt with a loss to the Buckeyes. Assuming Clemson, Alabama and OSU take three of the first four spots, he thinks it’s possible. Listen to what he told me in the tweet below.

Below is a full transcript of his answer:

I think with Notre Dame losing to Michigan in the fashion they did eliminates a potential one-loss Notre Dame being in a discussion without a conference championship game. I think Oklahoma losing opens up that scenario [PSU getting in] potentially even more. If you bear with me, imagine just to make it simple, like you said, all the favorites were to win and Ohio State were to win the B1G championship, Clemson were to win the ACC and let’s just say Alabama were to come out and win the SEC. You’re going to potentially have at the end there a one-loss Oklahoma comes out of the Big 12. A one-loss Oregon could be playing Utah. I expect those teams to play with one-loss in the PAC-12 championship. So, you could, let’s say have Oregon standing there with one-loss, you could have Oklahoma standing there with one-loss and then I think it becomes an argument of other than the three that are already in, I think then it becomes an argument with ‘well, boy, LSU, they went to Tuscaloosa and lost 38-35. That’s there only loss on the year.’ One-loss LSU could be in that discussion and the same for Penn State. If Penn State wins every game and including what’s not already on their resume, but a win potentially Saturday against Minnesota and then they lose a hard fought game in Columbus, then I think that’s the potential for the committee to have what they’d call a cluster. And the cluster would be the one-loss PAC-12, the one-loss Oklahoma, the one-loss LSU and the one-loss Penn State. And then, they’d try to separate those four teams and see who could be that fourth team. That’s if all the favorites were to win, I think that’s the argument the committee will potentially have in the first weekend of December and they try to figure out who is going to be going.

This is really the question that B1G fans are debating more than anything else. The Big 10 is obviously going to get a team into the playoff. (RELATED: David Hookstead Is The True King In The North When It Comes To College Football)

There’s no question about that at this point. It would take an epic disaster for that to not occur. The question is whether or not an 11-1 PSU can get in, and I think Herbstreit laid it all out nicely.

He’s 100% correct. They’re absolutely going to be in the hunt and they should be if their only loss is to an undefeated OSU squad.


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In the scenario we’re discussing, they’ll finish the season with wins over Minnesota, Michigan, Michigan State and Iowa.

That’s a hell of an impressive slate for the Nittany Lions.


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Of course, the Nittany Lions need to take care of business against Minnesota first. The Gophers are no joke, and they’ll give PSU fits and everything they can handle.

You can catch that game at noon EST on ABC. It should be a great game in some cold weather between two Big 10 programs.