*Editor’s Note: This article was written by Frank Kucharski
The Penn State Nittany Lions secured their spot in the Big Ten Championship with their 45-12 win over the Michigan State Spartans. The win keep’s Penn State’s championship hopes alive.
After a 30-27 double overtime thriller that resulted in the Ohio State Buckeyes defeating the Michigan Wolverines, Penn State controlled their own destiny. PSU previously defeated the #2 ranked Buckeyes in week seven. Late in the fourth quarter of that game, the Nittany Lions blocked a field goal and returned it for a touchdown. That score would turn out to be the difference that they needed to secure the win.
In the six-year history of the Big Ten Championship game, this is the first time that the Nittany Lions will be participating. Penn State will take on the Wisconsin Badgers, who won the West division following a 31-17 home win against Minnesota. This is the fourth appearance in the Big Ten Title game for the Badgers. In 2012, Wisconsin finished third in their division but received the bid to the game because both Penn State and Ohio State were banned from postseason games.
Nobody expected these two teams to make it to the big game. ESPN staff writer Jesse Temple reported that of the 39 writers who cover the Big Ten, 27 favored Ohio State to win the Eastern Division, and Iowa was the favorite in the West. These two teams exceeded their expectations by making it this far. The Big Ten had two teams in the top four of the college playoff rankings for most of the season – Michigan and Ohio State – but on Saturday, neither team will be playing for the conference title.
If Penn State can continue to stay hot and win this next game, they have a serious chance of being considered to play in the college playoff. If they win the conference championship it would be hard to leave them out, considering they would have won the head to head against Ohio State. The Nittany Lions also won the division that both Michigan and Ohio State are in. Both spent much of the season in the top four, as well as the conference championship.
The championship game will be this coming Saturday at 8 p.m. on FOX.