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Ohio State will know what they’re playing for by kickoff

The Big 12 and SEC Championships will determine whether the Buckeyes have a shot at the playoff or not.

Oklahoma v Texas Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Look, today is easy. There are three games that Buckeye fans need to watch. You can flip over to others if you get antsy, but when it comes to the future of Ohio State’s season, there are just three contests that matter. Obviously the most important is the Big Ten Championship Game at 8 p.m. ET on FOX, but you knew that one.

But, assuming that Ohio State wins against Northwestern in the night cap, the Big 12 and the SEC Championship Games will directly impact whether or not the Buckeyes have a shot at a berth in the College Football Playoff, or if they will be heading to Pasadena to take on the Pac-12 champion Washington Huskies in the Rose Bowl.

You could argue that if Pittsburgh beats Clemson the Tigers could be out of playoff contention, but I think it would need to be a beatdown of such epic proportions that would render it nearly impossible to imagine from this version of the Panthers.

Early Window

No. 14 Texas Longhorns at No. 5 Oklahoma Sooners
12 noon ET | ABC

This one brings with it some interesting emotions for Ohio State fans. It wasn’t too long ago that many in Buckeye Nation were hoping that current UT coach Tom Herman would eventually replace Urban Meyer as the Buckeyes’ head man. My, what a simpler time that was.

Since then, there have been vicious recruiting battles, the Mensa member’s rumored involvement in the Zach Smith fiasco, the allegations of strip club stops on recruiting trips, text message threats, and more.

All that aside though, a second win by the Longhorns over the Sooners this season would dramatically help the Buckeyes in their quest for a national championship. In early October, Texas defeated Oklahoma in the traditional Red River Whatever-It-Is-They’re-Calling-It-Now by a score of 48-45.

Herman’s team has lost twice since then (to Oklahoma State and West Virginia), while OU has scored under 50 only once (a 48-47 win over Ok. St.). We won’t dive into the comparisons between OU and OSU here, but needless to say, the committee seems to think that OU’s historically impressive offense completely counteracts their horrendous embarrassment of a defense.

So, if you are rooting for the Buckeyes to find a way back into the CFP, it would be much better if the Sooners just lost outright, rather than trying to argue the merits of Ohio State over Oklahoma. So, no matter how you feel about Herman, we should all be saying, “Ok, cool. Hook ‘em,” today.

Afternoon Window

No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide at No. 4 Georgia Bulldogs
4 p.m. ET | CBS

Now this one, from an Ohio State perspective, is pretty easy; Alabama’s gotta win for the Buckeyes to have a shot at the CFP. Despite what SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said, if the selection committee puts the Bulldogs into the playoff with an 11-2 record, no conference title, and a 20-point loss, instead of one or two 12-1 conference champs, there’s going to be a problem.

Obviously, this is going to be a rematch of last year’s national championship game, in which Nick Saban pulled what could be considered the greatest move of his coaching career when he benched quarterback Jalen Hurts at halftime in favor of then-freshman Tua Tagovailoa. The Tide went on to win 26-23 in overtime.

So, Sankey’s crazy idea aside, if UGA wins, they are obviously in the final four, and Alabama would then be 12-1 with the best lost of the season, so it stands to reason that they would be in as well, eliminating both Ohio State and Oklahoma.

Therefore, everyone in Buckeye Land (and Sooner Land, should they win at noon) will be pulling for ‘Bama to stay undefeated, keeping the fourth spot open.

Check Saturday’s full slate of games here:

Championship Saturday Week

Matchup Time (ET) TV Streaming
Matchup Time (ET) TV Streaming
#14 Texas at #5 Oklahoma 12:00 PM ABC
Drake at #23 Iowa State 12:00 PM None
Louisiana at Appalachian State 12:00 PM ESPN
East Carolina at NC State 12:00 PM ACC Network
Akron at South Carolina 12:00 PM SEC Network
Marshall at Virginia Tech 12:00 PM ACC Network
UAB at Middle Tennessee 1:30 PM CBSSN
Norfolk State at Liberty 2:00 PM ESPN3
Stanford at California 3:00 PM Pac-12 Networks
Memphis at #8 UCF 3:30 PM ABC
#1 Alabama at #4 Georgia 4:00 PM CBS
#25 Fresno State at #22 Boise State 7:45 PM ESPN
#2 Clemson at Pittsburgh 8:00 PM ABC
#21 Northwestern at #6 Ohio State 8:00 PM FOX