Outkick’s Final Top Ten For 2016

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – DECEMBER 03: James Franklin, head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions, and Malik Golden #6 of the Penn State Nittany Lions celebrate with the Big Ten Championship Trophy at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 3, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Gregory Shamus Getty Images North America

The playoff debate really comes down to an interesting question — do you take the best or the most deserving team from the Big Ten? Penn State is clearly the most deserving team, Ohio State might well be the best. Although, to be honest, as you’ll see below, I’m not honestly sure that Ohio State is even playing better than Penn State right now. 

The other three teams in the playoff are clearly the best and the most deserving. 

So here is my attempt to make sense of the madness. 

(FYI, I am presently driving back from Atlanta, but we’ll have a live Facebook and Periscope show this afternoon when I get back to Nashville.)

1. Alabama

The Crimson Tide might be the best team in college football history. What they did to Florida would be illegal in many countries. 

The craziest thing about this playoff debate is everyone in college football is arguing like hell to make the playoff so they can get their ass kicked by Alabama. 

2. Clemson

The offense has finally come alive, but that defense is spotty. 

I think Clemson probably has the best chance of any team to beat Alabama, but the Tigers aren’t beating Alabama either. 

3. Washington

The Huskies should be in, but can you imagine the howls from the west coast if two Big Ten teams got in instead?

4. Penn State

The Nittany Lions won college football’s toughest division, the Big Ten East, they won college football’s best conference this year, the Big Ten, and they beat Ohio State head-to-head. 

Right now Penn State is 11-2 and Ohio State is 11-1. That means there is a half game of separation between these two teams: Penn State went 9-1 in the Big Ten and Ohio State went 8-1. The head-to-head has to govern when two teams are this close.

If you take Ohio State over Penn State what you’re arguing is that a three point road loss at Pittsburgh in the second week of the season is more important than the entire Big Ten schedule, including a head-to-head victory and a conference title. Because no one would be arguing that 12-1 Big Ten champ Penn State doesn’t get in over 11-1 Ohio State, right? And let’s not act like Pittsburgh is an awful team, they went on the road and beat Clemson, my number two team in the country.

As for the loss to Michigan, does anyone think this Penn State team would get beaten like that today? Because I don’t. Penn State has come a long way from the team they were in September.  

Penn State is clearly the most deserving playoff representative from the Big Ten. 

But are they the best?

I think they might be. 

Are you guys even sure that Ohio State is better than Penn State right now?

Because I’m not.

Penn State has been dominant since they beat Ohio State, scoring 38 or more in six straight games and crushing Big Ten teams that performed really well against Ohio State and Michigan.


They beat Michigan in November.

Penn State throttled them, winning 41-14, also in November.

Michigan State?

The Spartans were throwing into the end zone on a two point conversion to beat Ohio State. Penn State beat them by 33 last week.

If on-field results actually matter, Penn State should be in the playoff.  

5. Ohio State

Is there precedent for dropping a team three spots in the final playoff rankings?


Just ask TCU in 2014. 

6. Michigan

The Wolverines were awfully close to beating Ohio State and probably making the playoff. 

Instead, they’re left sitting on the curb. 

7. USC

If you really want to argue about the best teams in college football right now, then USC is a top four team. 

In fact, I’d probably take the Trojans to beat every team in the country other than Alabama right now. 

8. Wisconsin

It was a very good season for the Badgers, but giving up a 21 point Big Ten title game lead is going to sting for a very long time. 

9. Oklahoma

The Sooners had a great season in the Big 12, going 9-0 in conference. 

Unfortunately, when you start off 1-2 no one is watching. 

10. Colorado

Mike Macintyre’s a stud. 

Congrats to the Buffaloes on hiring him and on having a great season. 

Written by Clay Travis

OutKick founder, host and author. He's presently banned from appearing on both CNN and ESPN because he’s too honest for both.