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Sunday, December 7, 2014

Big Ten cache wins out in College Football Playoff — What it means for Rutgers

(AP photo)
By Tyler Barto
Twitter: @Tyler_Barto

Kyle Flood's prophecy came true.

The third-year Rutgers coach long believed Big Ten affiliation would lead to a seat at the table in the College Football Playoff.

Thanks, partly, to a 59-0 route of Wisconsin on Saturday night in the Big Ten title game, Ohio State earned a No. 4 seed in the CFP, announced Sunday on ESPN.

The decision likely means two Big Ten teams will have clinched berths in New Year's Day bowl games, sending ripples down to the league's bottom-four bowl-eligible teams — Rutgers (7-5), Maryland (7-5), Illinois (6-6) and Penn State (6-6).

Because of Penn State's marketability and a lifted bowl ban, the Nittany Lions become a natural selection for any bowl, realistically shrinking the Big Ten's bubble to three schools for two contracted spots.

Rutgers beat Maryland, 41-38, in its season finale last week, but the decision between bowl committees and the Big Ten will come down to the most intriguing matchups and profitability.

The Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl, which matches the Big Ten and Conference USA, won't corner the storyline angle.

The Quick Lane Bowl, the other of two likely destinations for Rutgers, provides an interesting case study. 

The bowl pits a Big Ten team — Rutgers, Maryland, Illinois, etc. — against an ACC team. The ACC's old Big East ties (Boston College, Miami, Virignia Tech) makes Rutgers or Maryland, which left the ACC this season, a marketable selection.

One to consider: would Quick Lane committee members invite both Rutgers and the Hokies, a rematch of a dreadful 2012 Russell Athletic Bowl? Stay tuned.

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