College Football Cavalcade: The Ohio State College Football Playoff Problem

Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

College Football Cavalcade: The Ohio State College Football Playoff Problem

College Football Cavalcade

College Football Cavalcade: The Ohio State College Football Playoff Problem


What I think, know and believe about the college football world, the Ohio State College Football Playoff problem, getting rid of coaching problems, and the legitimacy of the season, all in the latest College Football Cavalcade.

Sorry if this column sucks, it’s not my fault …

If I miss one more column, I won’t be eligible for the Big Ten Championship. You’d get Northwestern vs. a Michael Penix-less Indiana for your 2020 title, and then you’d be sad.

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Wait … so giving up 491 passing yards and five touchdowns against the one decent team you played is a bad thing?

Let’s say Purdue had the best offense in the Big Ten with a great group of receivers and a future NFL starting quarterback.

Not crazy, right?

Let’s say the Boilermakers also had the league’s worst pass defense by a mile – giving up 31 more yards per game than the second-worst Rutgers pass D.

Also, let’s say they’re among the worst in the country at generating tackles for loss, allow the second-most sacks in the conference, only hit 2-of-5 field goals, and was last in the league in punting – to be fair, though, net punting is a misleading stat.

What if I told you that Purdue was 4-0, but three of its wins came against teams that aren’t going to finish with a winning record and have gone a combined 4-13 overall so far? The other win was against Indiana by seven in a wild shootout – it was a win, but the defense totally melted down and the great quarterback was outplayed, giving up three interceptions.

Also, there are two more games remaining against teams that won’t finish with a winning record, and if Purdue can’t play both of them, it won’t be able to play in the Big Ten Championship.

Would Purdue be considered an automatic pick for the top five in the latest College Football Playoff rankings? No, but top ten yes and probably the top eight.

If Purdue finished 5-0 and didn’t win the Big Ten Championship – much less if it went 4-0 – and considering its resumé with just one okay-not-great win, in a million, gajillion, bazillion years would it be considered for the College Football Playoff?


Now take all of that and replace Purdue with the words Ohio State, and ask yourself why America is so willing to give a free College Football Playoff pass to the Buckeyes.

Has the program earned the benefit of the College Football Playoff doubt? Not really, at least compared to Clemson and Alabama it hasn’t – 2014 was seven seasons ago and OSU hasn’t won a CFP game since.

Is it because of the talent level? LSU has NFL talent. So does Miami, and Auburn, and Texas A&M, and Florida, and North Carolina. Ohio State might have more, but that’s not supposed to mean anything in the College Football Playoff discussion.

Is it because of the always murky “eye test” that so many like to use as a default fallback when they can’t come up with a real reason? Here’s what I get whenever I’ve made this argument …

“Come on … you KNOW this is one of the four best teams … “

Actually, no. I don’t.

I mean … okay, yeah, of course I do – I can’t bring myself to believe this isn’t at least one of the six-or-so best – but this Buckeye team is hardly a be-all-end-all juggernaut who has to be in the CFP to give the tournament any sort of legitimacy.

Have you really watched Ohio State? It’s not even close to as strong as the 2019 version. It’s obviously great, but everyone looks very good when playing very bad teams.

And let’s stop playing nice-nice here – if Indiana is your one bullet in the argument gun, there’s a problem.

Alabama destroyed Georgia, Texas A&M, and Auburn. Florida has a win over Georgia. Texas A&M has a win over Florida. Notre Dame beat Clemson, and Clemson handed Miami its only loss in an ugly blowout.

Ohio State beat Indiana 42-35.

So if Ohio State has to miss one more game and isn’t eligible to go to the Big Ten Championship, give me the playoff argument.

Give me exactly why Ohio State deserves to be honored with a top four spot in the final College Football Playoff rankings based on what it accomplished on the field this 2020 season.

Give me exactly why a Pac-12 team with a better record – if one goes unbeaten – and has a Power Five conference championship should be skipped over for a team that has one halfway decent win and no conference title.

If you actually believe whatever talking points fit your narrative, then you just lost Ohio State’s 2017 argument to get into the College Football Playoff over Alabama.

Now, with ALL of that said …



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