Last season, the Ohio State Buckeyes were 11-1 in the regular season but because their one loss came to Penn State, they were kept out of the Big Ten Championship game.
PSU represented the Big Ten East instead and ultimately beat Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game to earn a berth in the Rose Bowl, but Ohio State, despite playing in the championship game, made its way into the College Football Playoff off the strength of the rest of its schedule.
The Buckeyes argued that being a conference champion shouldn’t have to be a prerequisite to being in the College Football Playoff, and ultimately, the selection committee agreed. Ohio Statelost to Clemson, the ultimate champion, in the Fiesta Bowl, but the Buckeyes made the College Football Playoff none the less.
This season, ironically, Ohio State is in a different boat. The Buckeyes have two losses — to No. 5 Oklahoma and to Iowa at Kinnick Stadium — but they’re still in line to represent the Big Ten East in the title game with a 7-1 in-conference record. If Ohio State beats Michigan and goes on to beat a presumably undefeated Wisconsin in Indianapolis the Buckeyes would have a pretty decent playoff bid.
Ironic would be the word to describe that bid, though, and that’s something Kirk Herbstreit recently brought up when breaking down the new College Football Playoffs rankings. Here’s Herbstreit , per 247Sports:
“What Ohio State basically has to hope happens is that Alabama wins out. If Alabama wins out — if you look at the teams ahead of them — then Auburn and Georgia are out of the mix. If Ohio State beats Wisconsin, that puts Wisconsin out of the mix. … Kind of ironic, fellas. Last year, Ohio State fans last year were saying, ‘The Big Ten championship doesn’t matter.’ This year, they’re going to be saying, “Hey, the Big Ten championship should matter.”
According to the most recent College Football Playoff rankings, Ohio State checks in at No. 9 behind Alabama, Miami, Clemson, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Auburn, Georgia, and Notre Dame, in order.
The Buckeyes will really need things to fall in their favor in order for the College Football Playoff to become a reality, but it is worth noting that at least in a way, they can control some of their fate by winning the Big Ten title.
Of course, if they lose to Michigan or Wisconsin all bets are off, but that’s the fun of the college football season, isn’t it?