May 24, 2024

Just how big is Saturday’s showdown between Penn State and Ohio State? According to the Allstate Playoff Predictor, it is the biggest game for the rest of the regular season in terms of College Football Playoff impact.

While each team has games with No. 2 Michigan looming (see below), the winner of this game will position themselves nicely among the three top contenders jockeying for the Big Ten East crown.

Most impactful remaining games

Penn State at Ohio State, Oct. 21
Ohio State at Michigan, Nov. 25
Michigan at Penn State, Nov. 11
Washington at USC, Nov. 4
LSU at Alabama, Nov. 4

How will Saturday’s result impact the playoff odds for the Nittany Lions and Buckeyes?

Penn State with a win: 67%
Penn State with a loss: 17%
Ohio State with a win: 74%
Ohio State with a loss: 24%

Penn State currently has a 15% chance to win out through the Big Ten championship game, while Ohio State has a 25% chance to win out through the Big Ten championship game.

USC’s last hope

After losing to Notre Dame, are USC’s playoff chances gone?

Just about. According to the Allstate Playoff Predictor, the Trojans chances of making the playoff are down to 2%. If the Trojans win out they would be a one-loss Power 5 team, which means they’d have a very good shot (77%, per the Predictor). The issue is the model doesn’t believe that’s likely at all. USC now ranks 15th in FPI and has games left against Utah, Washington and at Oregon. USC only has a 5% chance to beat all of those plus Cal and UCLA. And even if the Trojans defy the odds to run the table in the regular season, they would have to beat one of those top teams again to win the conference championship.

Tennessee-Alabama implications

It’s not quite on the level of Penn State-Ohio State, but there’s plenty of playoff stakes in the Tide-Vols rivalry game with Alabama sitting at 6-1 and ranked No. 11 in the country.

If Alabama exacts revenge for last year’s 52-49 defeat in Knoxville, Nick Saban’s group with have a 31% chance of making the CFP, per the predictor. If Tennessee wins, its chances rise to 5%.

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