This thread is about who is in our best interest to win this weekend in Columbus between Ohio State and Penn State, given that Michigan is now essentially eliminated from the Big Ten East race.
I know that there are some rational reasons to choose either team, but I want to lay out the strategic case as to why I'm rooting for Penn State to defeat Ohio State and Michigan State to lock up the East early (I would ultimately root for Wisconsin to defeat Penn State in Indianapolis).
- I don't want Ohio State to be playing for any championships when they come to Ann Arbor. If Penn State defeats Ohio State, the Buckeyes will be eliminated from Playoff Contention. If Penn State then beats Michigan State one week later, the Buckeyes will essentially be eliminated from the East race (as we are now) and if PSU follows that up by defeating Rutgers and Nebraska (both at home in Happy Valley, 99.99999% chance) by the time OSU comes to Ann Arbor the division race will literally be over. This increases our chances for a home upset in my view, with the Buckeyes feeling letdown rather than knowing they're playing for a national/Big Ten championship. Will also decrease the amount of red in the stands.
- I want one of these two teams eliminated from the playoff, and the only way that happens this week is with a PSU win. Seeing BOTH Ohio State and Penn State in the playoff would be a heinous nightmare. The only thing worse than seeing one of these two in the playoff is both of them (and with Notre Dame still lurking around...oh god). It's not a certainty, but say PSU loses in Columbus but it's competitive or close/fluky. If OSU wins out to finish 12-1 as Big Ten Champions, they're in. If PSU is sitting at 11-1 with a narrow, road loss to a playoff team, riding a 4 game win streak, they'd have a decent shot at the playoff, especially with implosions already happening in the Big 12 and PAC 12 (and maybe the ACC?). Another scenario: say OSU loses to Wisconsin in Indy, but Wisconsin loses to one of Michigan/Iowa/Minnesota beforehand; PSU could easily get in à la OSU 2016 because the Badgers have no margin for error given their schedule, even if they are Big Ten champs.
- The more successful Penn State is in 2017, the more likely they suffer key departures in the offseason that bring them back down to earth in 2018 and beyond. Michigan wants Joe Moorhead (and potentially lower level assistants) to get poached to a job he cannot turn down. Michigan wants Barkely to leave early for the NFL, and possibly even McSorely. All of this becomes more likely if PSU doesn't head into the off season with hope that 2018 could be THE special year because 2017 fell just short. At this point, there are not equivalent key pieces on the Buckeye side in similar positions.
- Ohio State is a far bigger recruiting threat than Penn State.
- It's always more demoralizing for the home team to lose, and OSU Horseshoe losses are inherently delightful.