You Have Got to See How Often Penn State Football Would Have Made a 12-Team College Football Playoff

Penn State Football, James Franklin
Penn State Football head coach James Franklin(Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire)

Penn State Football has yet to make the College Football Playoff, under its current 4-team format.

However, with the news Thursday that the playoff will expand to 12 teams beginning in 2024 came the shocking revelation of how often the Nittany Lions would have qualified for the tournament, had that been the format since 2014.

Had the College Football Playoff been 12 teams all along, as it will be following the 2024 season, only Ohio State, Alabama, Georgia, Clemson, and Oklahoma would have made the playoff more often than James Franklin‘s Nittany Lions.

Let’s take a look back at some of the recent College Football Playoffs to get a sense for how things could have gone differently for Penn State Football, beginning with the Lions’ 2016 Big Ten championship campaign.

2016 College Football Playoff

No. 1 Alabama
No. 2 Clemson
No. 3 Washington
No. 4 Penn State
No. 5 Ohio State
No. 6 Michigan
No. 7 Oklahoma
No. 8 Wisconsin
No. 9 USC
No. 10 Colorado
No. 11 Florida State
No. 12 Western Michigan

Penn State Football wins the Big Ten title, losing only two games in the year, beating Ohio State in the regular season and in a conference championship format.

Yet, the selection committee chose the Buckeyes, an impressive one-loss team, but still not a Big Ten champion. It was confusing back then and supporting evidence for why the format is changing now.

In this scenario, a 12-team playoff would give Penn State the final bye and have Ohio State opened the first round of play against Western Michigan.


2017 College Football Playoff

No. 1 Clemson
No. 2 Oklahoma
No. 3 Georgia
No. 4 Ohio State
No. 5 Alabama
No. 6 Wisconsin
No. 7 Auburn
No. 8 USC
No. 9 Penn State
No. 10 Miami
No. 11 Washington
No. 12 UCF

The 2017 season would have Penn State Football sneaking in at No. 9 after going 11-2 on the year.

This proposed format would also have seen Alabama play UCF in Tuscaloosa for an opening round no one would forget. The potential to see both 2017 National Champions clash together. Franklin’s team would have opened the postseason with a trip west, to take on USC.

2018 College Football Playoff

No. 1 Alabama
No. 2 Clemson
No. 3 Oklahoma
No. 4 Ohio State
No. 5 Notre Dame
No. 6 Georgia
No. 7 Michigan
No. 8 UCF
No. 9 Washington
No. 10 Florida
No. 11 LSU
No. 12 Penn State

When it comes to the 2018 season, Notre Dame comes as an interesting case.

The Irish managed an undefeated season, but the proposed rules stipulate that only conference champions earn a bye, dropping from 3 to 5 in the twelve teamers.

Other teams this would have affected include Georgia, another non-champion.

So, when breaking down the original top five teams from the committee perspective, two of them would be kicked into the opening round.

Overall, Penn State Football went 9-4 this year, and would benefit greatly from an expanded playoff format. The Nittany Lions would have opened in South Bend.

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2019 College Football Playoff

No. 1 LSU
No. 2 Ohio State
No. 3 Clemson
No. 4 Oklahoma
No. 5 Georgia
No. 6 Oregon
No. 7 Baylor
No. 8 Wisconsin
No. 9 Florida
No. 10 Penn State
No. 11 Utah
No. 12 Memphis

The only controversy this year would have been some angry Auburn fans, with the replacement of Memphis at the No. 12 spot.

Penn State Football managed an 11-2 year, putting up 35.77 points and 125 rushing yards per game. It’s always a fun time down memory lane, looking back at a receiving core of Jahan Dotson, KJ Hamler, and Pat Freiermuth. Now, the Lions get to be spoiled with a loaded 2023 class that will consist of star quarterback Drew Allar, and a dynamic backfield duo of Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen.

2014-2022 Recap

The official 12-team playoff format proposal would have brought the Big Ten 23 conference bids since 2014.

Allowing more than two teams each year into the race, while Penn State Football would have made the playoff four more times than they had originally.

Where it stands now, five teams have accounted for more than 75% of the bids during the CFB playoff era, (Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and Notre Dame).

You can be on either side of the argument, but it’s no question the twelve-team playoff bracket would allow the fans much more exposure to watch their favorite squad make it to the postseason.

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