It was a great weekend for Buckeye fans, as Ohio State once again took down Michigan in a 31-20 win in The Game. The win over Michigan keeps the Buckeyes in the playoff contention hunt while there were also two big games that effected the potential outcome of the college football playoff race. Let’s take a look at what happened this past weekend and what needs to happen moving forward.
The top four in the college football playoff ranking this week are: 1. Clemson 2. Auburn 3. Oklahoma 4. Wisconsin
The Buckeyes enter the fifth installment of the college football playoff rankings at number eight overall.
Going into this weekend, Buckeye fans were cheering for an Alabama win over Auburn in the Iron Bowl, and then a win over Georgia in the SEC Championship game. That scenario would have given Auburn their third loss, and Georgia their second, making it difficult for a second SEC team to make the playoff. However, we are all well aware now that Alabama lost the Iron Bowl to Auburn and will not be in the SEC Championship game, meaning that Auburn and Georgia will be the two teams playing. This was a huge hit for the Buckeyes playoff chances because now the question the committee will have to answer will be does Alabama drop from number one to at least number five after the loss and not having any games left.
Many college football analysts are trying to compare this Alabama team to last years Buckeyes team to make their claim why the Tide still deserve to be in. Both teams did not make their championship game, but that is the only similarity. Last seasons Buckeye team had three wins over the final top ten (Oklahoma, Wisconsin, and Michigan) and another quality win over Nebraska. This years Alabama team best wins are a three loss LSU, a four loss Mississippi State, and a 5-6 Florida State team. That is not even comparable. To me, the comparison is to Ohio State’s 2015 team, a team that did not make the playoffs after losing to Michigan State late in the season. I think most agreed they were a top four team that season, but losing late in the year to Michigan State and without that major marque win on their resume, there was no way the committee could put them in the top four. I think that should be what happens to Alabama as well.
As far as the SEC Championship game, I think the Buckeyes should cheer for Georgia. Georgia winning gives Auburn their third loss and eliminates them. However, If Auburn does trounce Georgia again, the Bulldogs will ultimately be eliminated from playoff contention as well it would seem.
The Big 12 Championship Game is set with Oklahoma and TCU squaring off again in a rematch. For this game, Buckeye fans need to be rooting for Oklahoma to take care of business and win their league championship. I know a lot of Buckeye fans may not like Baker Mayfield, but Oklahoma losing would be a nightmare situation for us. TCU winning would not automatically put them in, as they are likely too far down in the rankings to make the top four, but the Buckeyes do not need a lot of drama and hard decisions here for the committee. If Oklahoma wins, they are in, simple as that. That’s what we should cheer for.
A big helping hand to the Buckeyes occurred this past week, as Pittsburgh took down undefeated Miami in an upset. With Miami and Clemson knowing they claimed their spot in the ACC Championship game last week, the Miami loss did not completely ruin their playoff chances per say. The winner of this game absolutely will have their spot in the four team playoff, but the Miami loss to Pittsburgh is what can loom big for the Buckeyes. In this game, we need to be cheering for Clemson. They have seven top 50 wins which shows their strong resume, and this is not a team the Buckeyes want to have to compare with for a fourth and final playoff spot. If Miami loses this game, that gives them their second loss, and second in a row, which is huge. The committee would, in no circumstance, put a team in the playoffs that lost their last two games as finishing strong is a huge component.
Similar to last week, I still do not think their is a chance for the PAC 12 to get a team in the four team playoff. USC and Stanford are the two teams playing, and if we have to cheer for somebody, I guess Buckeye fans should want the Cardinal to win this game. It’s hard to imagine any scenario where USC jumps the Buckeyes if both teams win, but Stanford winning would give USC their third loss, eliminating any small hope of the playoff.
Obviously, this is the game that we are all looking forward to, Buckeyes versus the Badgers in the Big 10 Championship game. We all know the Buckeyes need to come in and take care of business and block out all the distractions this week has brought (JT injury, camera man situation, Schiano Tennessee meltdown) and win their league championship. I do not think the Buckeyes need to 59-0 the Badgers to get in the playoffs like in 2014, but a double digit, convincing win for the Buckeyes will give them a strong finish and resume that will be tough to keep them out. On the other spectrum, if the Badgers win and finish their undefeated season, there should be no question that they make the college football playoffs, despite their lackluster resume.
With no championship game, the Irish had one last chance to impress against Stanford and lost 38-20, giving them their third loss on the season. Some thought the Irish would continue to be in the playoff discussion despite not belonging to a conference, but this third loss puts all of that talk to bed. They will not factor in the Ohio State playoff discussion, and a third loss weakens Georgia and Miami’s win over this Irish team.
At the end of the day, this installment of the playoff ranking will be important for the Buckeyes for a few reasons. First and most obviously, they want to be ranked as high as possible so it is easier to justify jumping over teams in the final ranking. Next, where Wisconsin is will be big. With the Miami and Alabama loss, hopefully Wisconsin makes their move into the top four, giving the Buckeyes a chance to knock off a playoff slated Badgers team. Next, if Alabama is out of the top four, I think that would be a great sign for the Buckeyes. The committee is going to have to justify potentially taking Alabama out of the playoffs after their first loss, but if they are outside the top four this week, it would be a lot easier for the Buckeyes to jump them as they still have another game remaining. However, at the end of the day, if the Buckeyes take care of business against Wisconsin and still do not make it in, it’s not the end of the world Buckeye Nation. That 31 point loss to Iowa is still looming large in the committees eyes, and I think that would be a justifiable reason that the Buckeyes could get left out.
Still, there is a lot to cheer for this weekend and it all starts with our Buckeyes taking care of Wisconsin in Indy this Saturday night.
(Image via ESPN)