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Ohio State has little room for error in pursuit of College Football Playoff

With the early loss to Oklahoma, anything less than perfection will cost the Buckeyes a chance at playing in the Rose Bowl or Sugar Bowl semifinals

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Rutgers Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

“[Teams with no margin for error] 1. Ohio State (4-1): The Buckeyes are favored by FPI to win each of their remaining games, but the Oct. 28 matchup against Penn State looms the largest. The Buckeyes lost this game last season and still finished in the top four, but that wouldn't happen this time because of their Week 2 loss to Oklahoma.”

- Heather Dinich, ESPN

It’s not really a secret at this point: Ohio State can’t afford another loss this season if the Buckeyes expect to make the College Football Playoff. After the home loss to the Oklahoma Sooners, Urban Meyer has turned his team around on offense (albeit against much weaker teams) and have now got their eyes sight on Maryland and Nebraska. But a couple of weeks from now, Penn State comes into town with an opportunity for Ohio State to prove that they’ve grown since Week 2. They’ll have their work cut out for them, too, since the Nittany Lions have looked great every week and have Heisman contender Saquon Barkley at running back doing it all.

Every win from here on is a must-win for the Buckeyes, and if they want to rise in the rankings they have to take advantage of when they play teams like Penn State or Michigan.

“I thought to myself last year (at Butler) that I might have made a mistake by doing it, but it ended up allowing us to have a four-seed in the NCAA Tournament. It was all a byproduct of the non-conference schedule.”

- Chris Holtmann via Bill Landis, Cleveland.com

One of the knocks on Thad Matta and Ohio State basketball, especially towards the end of Matta’s tenure, was that the Buckeyes hardly had any important or big-name programs for non-conference games. New head coach Chris Holtmann has mentioned several times that he’d like for that to change in a hurry. And avoiding marquee non-conference matchups were even more obvious when it came to scheduling teams from within the state of Ohio such as Xavier, Dayton, Cincinnati, and even Akron. With the recent scheduling of the Bearcats, however, it appears that is all behind Gene Smith and Ohio State.

From his time with Butler, Holtmann knows the importance of a strong non-conference schedule, particularly when it pertains to being selected for the NCAA tournament. Of course, one could argue that Matta simply felt his teams wouldn’t have much success against top competition and even though it hurt their strength of schedule, would rather have wins over teams that don’t put up much of a fight than the alternative.

“We don't condone that. And I had a little chat with him. But you guys probably know Terry. He's everything you want. And don't do that. But there was a cheap shot on him early in the game, bad one. A tough guy like that, it carried with him for a while.”

- Urban Meyer via Doug Lesmerises, Cleveland.com

Remember that great block from Terry McLaurin against Rutgers that was eventually flagged (twice)? Urban Meyer still does, and he wasn’t a fan of the way McLaurin conducted himself during and after the play. There was a penalty for the over aggressive block but also a penalty for standing over the player and letting him hear about it. Meyer made sure McLaurin knew that it wasn’t okay. Still, Meyer was pleased with the overall effort and even graded the wide receiver as a champion this week— McLaurin hauled in five receptions for 51 yards.

Since McLaurin is collectively considered the best blocker among the wide receivers, it was all right to let this one slide, but Meyer made it a point to say that in the future this kind of play and the extra curricular activity afterwards wouldn’t fly.

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