LSU and Notre Dame losing has Penn State thinking New Years Six

Going into the final weekend of the college football regular season saw Penn State needing a little bit of help to move up in the College Football Playoff rankings enough to be more confident in receiving a shot to play in a New Years Six bowl game. With the Rose Bowl still on the table, barely, Penn State was looking to take care of business against Michigan State and get some assists from around the country to move up from its No. 11 ranking. Not only did Penn State get some help from losses by Oregon and Clemson, but LSU took a fall on Saturday night as well.

And that is the big one for Penn State.

Sitting behind three SEC teams in the playoff ranking, not including No. 1 Georgia, meant that a path to the Orange Bowl and potentially the Cotton Bowl was blocked for Penn State. But LSU’s loss to lowly Texas A&M on Saturday night could be enough to drop the Tigers below the Nittany Lions, change the entire SEC bowl outlook, and help Penn State lock in a spot in the Cotton Bowl. We will not know for sure just where LSU falls and where Penn State rises until the next update to the College Football Playoff rankings are released on Tuesday night, but things suddenly look great for Penn State.

Here is why.


Oregon's collapse could help Penn State get into the NY6

Let’s assume that Georgia is heading to the College Football Playoff. That leaves the SEC’s automatic tie-in to the Sugar Bowl up for grabs for the next highest-ranked SEC team available. LSU would need to beat Georgia in next weekend’s SEC Championship Game in order to secure the Sugar Bowl spot, but the odds will be in favor of Georgia winning the SEC and handing LSU its fourth loss of the year. That leaves the Sugar Bowl there for either Alabama or a Tennessee team with an identical record and a head-to-head victory over the Tide. Alabama has the higher ranking at the moment though and could be slotted into the Sugar Bowl as the SEC’s representative against the Big 12’s rep (Kansas State in all likelihood).

The next bowl spot to fill would be the Orange Bowl. The Orange Bowl will welcome the ACC champion (Clemson or North Carolina) and the highest-ranked team available from either the Big Ten, SEC, or Notre Dame. LSU will likely be out of the picture, and Notre Dame’s loss to USC put the Fighting Irish out of contention as well. So it would come down to Penn State or Tennessee for the Orange Bowl. The Vols were one spot ahead of the Nittany Lions in the last batch of playoff rankings and a 56-0 victory over Vanderbilt should easily keep the Vols one step ahead of Penn State in the next batch of rankings. That would slot Tennessee for the Orange Bowl, leaving Penn State there for the tasking for the Cotton Bowl.

The Cotton Bowl will get the highest-ranked at-large team available as well as the Group of 5 representative, which will be coming out of the American Athletic Conference championship game between Tulane and UCF. The only possible hurdle for Penn State and the Cotton Bowl might be TCU being upset in the Big 12 championship game by Kansas State. A loss to the Wildcats likely wouldn’t do enough damage to TCU’s ranking compared to Penn State, which means Penn State would be in jeopardy of not playing in a New Years Six bowl game with an upset in the Big 12.

But then again, an upset in the Big 12 leaves the door open for Ohio State to still make the College Football Playoff and leaving the Big Ten’s spot in the Rose Bowl vacant.

So while Penn State’s season has come to a close, there will still be plenty to be paying attention to during the conference championship weekend.


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Story originally appeared on Nittany Lions Wire