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.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
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.