Saturday began with even more uncertainty surrounding bowls.
Conference championships matter. Head-to-head matters.
If the split championship in 1997 paved the way for the BCS, seasons such as 2004 and 2011 ushered in the playoff era. True. But every Saturday counts, or at least nearly every Saturday (three of the selected teams lost a game).
The Badgers await the announcement of their bowl destination this afternoon.
Winning consecutive league titles for the first time in 28 years likely will send the Tigers (12-1, No. 3 CFP) back to the four-team College Football Playoff for the second straight year, providing Watson with an opportunity to resolve unfinished business from last January, when his team lost to Alabama in the national championship game.
On its face, it's an nearly inarguable quartet.
Championship weekend ended with a couple wild games, but mostly the field of four fell into place.
Clemson defeated nine bowl teams in winning the ACC, with impressive victories against Auburn, Louisville and Florida State. But strength of schedule worked in PSU's favor.
Selection committee chairman Kirby Hocutt said the decision came down not to Penn State and Ohio State, but the Nittany Lions and Pac-12 champion Washington. "But what we talked about this morning was the quality wins Washington has this year".
This talent, and the intriguing matchups they present, will be in full display on December 31. Penn State played in the conference title game - that elusive 13 data point - and won. 3 Michigan. The Nittany Lions rallied from 21 points down to beat No. 5 Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship.
Your Michigan Football rooting guide for championship weekend
If they both win, it's possible the committee will wait until December 10 - when Navy faces Army - to determine who gets the nod. The final playoff rankings will hang on the result of the Pac 12, ACC , and Big Ten championship games .
Steve Connelly of Onward State is impressed by Penn State's never-say-die attitude.
From the Wisconsin point of view, Penn State's 21-point comeback was like a horror movie.
"I think that's the hard part", Penn State coach James Franklin said. With 58 seconds left in the first half, sophomore quarterback Trace McSorley threw a pass to junior wide receiver Saeed Blacknall.
"I think that you can make arguments for and against so many different teams", Franklin said. That alone should be enough to propel the Nittany Lions into the College Football Playoff.
Penn State fans took to the streets of downtown State College Saturday night to celebrate the team's Big Ten Championship victory over Wisconsin.
What's frustrating about Sunday's Playoff semifinal pairings is that the Buckeyes' résumé - which had holes in it worth poking at and having a robust discussion about - did not get compared head-to-head to that of Penn State, the team that beat them and finished just outside the top four at No. 5.
Ohio State lost to Penn State on October 22, but closed the season with a double-overtime victory over then-No.
If there is a pattern to be found in the committee's work over three years it may be this simple: For the most part, the teams are ranked by the number in the loss column. Clemson and Ohio State will face off in the Fiesta Bowl. All four of the teams invited to the playoff suffered one loss or less. The Lions went 3-and-out on each of their first two possessions and allowed Wisconsin to score of both of its first two possessions. Our side of the conference is maybe the best in all of conference football.
Wisconsin: Will wait to see who they'll get in the postseason, one that could have been much more interesting had they protected their lead.