No. 5 Ohio State is listed ahead of No. 8 Penn State in the College Football Playoff rankings and has a head-to-head win over the Nittany Lions, but that reportedly won't stop the Rose Bowl from potentially passing on the Buckeyes even if given the opportunity to select them.

Nicole Auerbach and Stewart Mandel of The Athletic reported Wednesday that "the Rose Bowl is strongly considering taking Penn State instead of Ohio State this year" if the Buckeyes do not finish in the top four and make the CFP.

While the Rose Bowl traditionally takes the Big Ten champion, Michigan figures to be in the CFP if it defeats Purdue in the conference title game Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium. That would leave the bowl opening for another team, and Ohio State would normally be the selection.

However, as Auerbach noted, the Rose Bowl is not obligated to pick the highest-ranked team of the remaining options.

On paper, passing up on a chance to pick the Buckeyes seems foolish.

Data indicated before the season started that Scarlet and Gray have the biggest fanbase in college football. They are also television ratings juggernauts who routinely draw millions of eyeballs to watch their games.