Penn State is one of the nation’s most likely teams to earn a berth in the College Football Playoff, according to ESPN’s 2018 Playoff Predictor.
Based on the analytics, ESPN put the Nittany Lions’ odds at a playoff spot at 37 percent. Only five teams boast better odds — including Alabama (78 percent), Georgia (58 percent), Ohio State (54 percent), Clemson (50 percent) and Oklahoma (49 percent).
After the Nittany Lions, there’s a big drop — with Washington next at 15 percent.
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Penn State should take care of business this Friday against Illinois, which is one of the conference’s worst teams. The playoff picture should become a little clearer the next week, when James Franklin’s crew is set to take on the Buckeyes at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 29.
If the Nittany Lions win that, their odds at making the playoff should increase considerably — definitely past the 50 percent mark. Ohio State is the best team on Penn State’s schedule, and a win there would give PSU the inside track on a spot in the Big Ten championship game.
A loss? That’d almost certainly keep Penn State from the Big Ten title game, and it’d likely then need help outside the conference to earn a playoff spot, even if it finishes 11-1.
Penn State’s playoff odds have increased every week. It started off at 8 percent to make the playoff, followed by 27 percent and now 37 percent. But the key is where it stands two weeks from now.