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Kudos to James Franklin for eloquently stating Penn State’s case after his Nittany Lions staged an epic comeback from a 28-7 deficit to defeat Wisconsin 38-31 in the Big Ten championship game.

“We just won the toughest conference in college football,’’ the Penn State coach said. “We’ve won nine straight, and they say you’re allowed to overcome early-season setbacks. It’s on you, now, the committee!’’

And kudos to Franklin for the classy way he handled the disappointing news on Sunday that the Nittany Lions didn’t make the four-team playoff.

No. 1 Alabama will face No. 4 Washington in one semi-final. The other matchup will be No. 2 Clemson and No. 3 Ohio State, which got the nod despite losing to Penn State and despite not winning the Big Ten championship—two accomplishments on the Nittany Lions’ resume.

All things considered, this is the right four teams. It’s the right call, but a close call.

“Our guys obviously would have loved to be in the playoffs,” Franklin said, adding the issue of being out while Ohio State is in “is the hard part. You can make arguments  for and against so many teams. Us being conference champion and winning head-to-head, we felt gave us a lot of value. Plus,  we feel like we’re hot right now. You can  make arguments a lot of different ways, based on your perspective. But we’re very appreciative and honored for the opportunities we have. We’ve still got work to do. We want to finish this thing the right way.”

Penn State is headed to the Rose Bowl, where it will face USC, another talented team that’s hot right now.

This was the problem: If you had put in Penn State, who do you take out? Unbeaten Alabama is bedrock. And Ohio State, Clemson and Washington are very deserving one-loss teams.

In the end, Penn State’s two September losses at Pitt and Michigan mattered—no matter how long ago. The rest of this article is available to subscribers only – to become a subscriber click here.