The good news is Ohio State picked up another pair of gold pants and continued their domination of Michigan, Harbaugh or not, clobbering the Wolverines, 42-13. The bad news is they needed Penn State to upset Michigan State in order to win a Big Ten East division title and a bid to Indy. Michigan State made sure that didn't happen, hammering Penn State and sealing the division title for themselves.
Without another game to play, it seems very unlikely for Ohio State to move up enough in the rankings to grab a playoff spot this season.
That doesn't mean that Ohio State's season is over though. Thanks to a Baylor loss and a commanding road win over a ranked opponent, Ohio State should improve on its No. 8 ranking and secure a New Years Bowl slot for themselves. But which one? There are two likely possibilities.
The Rose Bowl
Per the most recent bowl projections from the mothership's Jason Kirk, the Big Ten is not necessarily tied to taking the top tanked Big Ten team on the board. The Big Ten champion is playoff bound, so that begs the question: would the committee take a division champion (Iowa or Michigan State), or Ohio State, who maybe will have a higher playoff ranking, and will certainly boost a higher Q score? It's possible that the powers that be decide that Iowa would make an attractive pick, given that the Hawkeyes haven't been to Pasadena in ages, but we think it's more likely that money and #brands win out, and Ohio State is given the nod here.
If Ohio State is picked for the Rose Bowl, they'll face the top picked non-playoff Pac-12 team. It doesn't look like a Pac-12 team is likely to make the playoff this season, so the Buckeyes could get the conference champion. Right now, that would be Stanford. Ohio State and Stanford in the Rose Bowl seems pretty fun to us, if we're being honest.
The Fiesta or Peach Bowls
If Ohio State isn't tabbed to go to the Rose Bowl for whatever reason, they'll likely be picked up as one of the at-large teams for the Fiesta or Peach Bowls. Both of these games match up at-large teams and since there is still a fair amount of football to be played here, it's harder to project a possible opponent. Maybe Notre Dame? AAC champion Houston in the Tom Herman Bowl? Florida State? The top Big 12 and SEC teams on the board go to the Sugar, but anybody else could get slotted here. In this scenario, we'd be rooting for a crack at Notre Dame. Ohio State would probably enjoy greater home field advantage in the Fiesta, but maybe the powers that be would like to change things up a bit and get the Buckeyes in a city they haven't played in as much.
But what about the playoff?
We'll have a better idea about this on Tuesday night after the next playoff rankings are released, but right now, it seems pretty implausible for Ohio State to somehow back into the playoff. But "pretty implausible" isn't the same thing as impossible. For the Buckeyes to somehow get a crack at defending their title, we think the following needs to happen:
- Florida needs to beat Alabama in the SEC Championship game
- USC needs to beat Stanford in the Pac-12 Championship game
Stanford losing may not be required, but if you want to avoid any shot of a conference champion leapfrogging the Buckeyes, a USC upset would help. Clemson is probably in the playoff even if they lose the ACC championship game (and even if they lose, UNC, two FCS non-conference games and South Carolina loss and all, might just grab their spot) whoever wins the Big Ten championship is in the playoff, and Oklahoma is likely in after pasting Oklahoma State. That means Bama needs to lose to Florida. I did, after all, say this was implausible.
So what say you? Where are you hoping Ohio State ends up?