After the next-to-last College Football Playoff rankings, can No. 8 Ohio State get into the fun with a win in the Big Ten Championship?
It’s going to take some working, some massaging, and so fighting in the room, but the case will be there.
If it seemed like Ohio State’s No. 8 ranking in the next-to-last College Football Playoff rankings was a deathblow to any hopes of getting in, nope.
The Buckeyes are still hovering around, and from the post-ranking reveal comments from spokesman Kirby Hocutt, it didn’t seem like there was much of a difference between Alabama at 5 and where the Buckeyes landed.
It was almost as if it was a hint at what’s to come.
Being at No. 8 isn’t all that great. The committee only gave a little bit of respect to the win over Michigan, and it didn’t punish No. 7 Miami or Alabama quite enough.
It probably won’t matter.
If the Buckeyes can take care of business on Saturday night in Indianapolis, they just might have a shot to slip in at the four spot once all the final results and resumes are in.
Remember, it’s not about moving up or moving down like the AP or Coaches polls – it’s about being slotted in the right spots.
Here’s how this has to work.
Ohio State doesn’t have to blowout the Badgers, but it would certainly help. Roll and look amazing, and it’ll make the case easier. Win in a good fight, and it should be just enough.
The ACC champion – Clemson or Miami – will get in, and so will the SEC champion. That’s important, because if it’s Georgia, that knocks out then-three loss Auburn and crushes Alabama’s case for last week’s loss being good enough to warrant a push into the top four. If Auburn crushes the Bulldogs, that might actually help the Crimson Tide – that loss wouldn’t look so bad.
However, if Auburn wins, and the committee puts it in, that breaks through the two-loss champion barrier that has yet to be broken in the first three years of the College Football Playoff. It then becomes more acceptable for an 11-2 Ohio State to find its way in.
The Buckeyes could use Oklahoma beating TCU in the Big 12 Championship. That would make it quick and clean – Oklahoma would be in. If TCU wins, then it gets messy, and then the Horned Frogs have a case, meaning it would come down to Alabama vs. Ohio State for that fourth spot.
And then come the side-by-side taste tests.
Ohio State’s brutal loss at Iowa is unacceptable, and in the end could serve as the anchor that brings the Buckeyes down. There can’t be any complaint if it does – if the roles were reversed, and Alabama lost like that to, say, Missouri, Buckeye fans would go out of their minds.
However, the other loss was to Oklahoma. Even at home, early in the season, that would be more than acceptable, while Alabama’s loss late in the year to Auburn stings. It’s not quite fair, but timing will matter.
And then there’s the matter of the good wins – Alabama doesn’t have many.
Technically, Bama’s best win is over No. 17 LSU. That’s fine, and so was the win over No. 23 Mississippi State, and go ahead and throw in the win over No. 25 Fresno State in there if you must.
There’s some decent work in there, but none of those wins were particularly scintillating, and none of them – technically – are better than what Ohio State can argue if it wins the Big Ten title.
Handing the only unbeaten Power Five team its only loss of the year would do wonders for all of the metrics. Beating the No. 4 Wisconsin team would be the top-line of the resume, but the Buckeyes also beat No. 9 Penn State, and annihilated No. 16 Michigan State.
Three wins, all better than anything Alabama could boast. Throw in the conference championship aspect, and yes, Buckeye fans, there’s a more than reasonable argument that your team should get in with a win.