Dienhart: Pac-12 result impacts Big Ten's playoff picture

Matthew OHaren - USA TODAY Sports

Dienhart: Pac-12 result impacts Big Ten's playoff picture

2016 Football Championship

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The playoff picture came into sharper focus with Washington’s 41-10 win tonight over Colorado in the Pac-12 title game.

The win by Washington likely sews up a playoff spot for the Huskies, who were No. 4 in last week’s College Football Playoff poll. UW’s resume is augmented with a triumph vs. the No. 8 Buffaloes. Washington also has wins over No. 18 Stanford and No. 20 Utah.

And two other spots in the playoff already seem to be secure, with Alabama and Ohio State primed to earn slots. The Crimson Tide were No. 1 in last week’s poll. And most feel that even if Bama suffers a massive upset by falling to Florida in the SEC title game today, the Crimson Tide still will earn a playoff spot. And pundits also feel the Buckeyes are safe, since they feature an unmatched resume and came in No. 2 in last week’s poll with wins over Top 10 teams in No. 5 Michigan, No. 6 Wisconsin and No. 9 Oklahoma.

That leaves the Big Ten with one really good hope to get a second team in the playoff: A loss by No. 2 Clemson to Virginia Tech in the ACC title game on Saturday. If that happens, it would open the door for the winner of tonight’s Big Ten title game between Wisconsin and Penn State to get in, or Michigan.

The Wolverines were No. 5 in last week’s poll, while the Badgers were No. 6 and the Nittany Lions No. 7. Would the committee take a Michigan team that finished third in the Big Ten East over the Big Ten title game winner? Maybe. The Wolverines have a strong resume that includes wins over three teams in the CFP poll Top 10: No. 6 Wisconsin, No. 7 Penn State and No. 8 Colorado.

It’s a resume that on many fronts is more impressive the Badgers’ or Nittany Lions’.

But remember this: Perhaps Penn State can jump into the playoff over Washington and Michigan if the Nittany Lions post a big win vs. Wisconsin tonight. Ohio State pulled a similar feat in 2014 by blasting Wisconsin to earn their way into the playoff and they went on to win the national title.

In the two-year history of the College Football Playoff, all the teams won their conferences. Also, no conference has landed two of the four bids. That may change with this season’s playoff.

Stay tuned. It’s going to be interesting to see how this all shakes out.

Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer

About Tom Dienhart: BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, and send him questions to his weekly mailbag.

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