Despite what coaches with idiotic first names that coach teams south of the Mason-Dixon Line would like you to think, the 6-0, undefeated Big Ten champion No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes secured their spot in the College Football Playoff with their 22-10 victory in the conference title game this afternoon.
If you want to argue whether Ryan Day’s Buckeyes should be in the playoff or not, I would entertain that, since that’s a subjective opinion. However, no serious person who has observed the College Football Playoff selection committee during the first 6+ years of its existence can honestly pretend that there is any imaginable situation in which OSU doesn’t make the CFP for the fourth time.
Ohio State has been No. 4 in each and every set of rankings released by the committee this season, and all the Buckeyes have done is go out and win their games while carrying that mantle. Has it been pretty? Nope. Does it matter? Not in the least.
The Buckeyes have wins against two teams currently ranked in the CFP’s top 15, they are undefeated, and they won their conference title by double-digits despite being down 24 players, including four starters and a large sampling of substantive contributors. There is literally zero reason to believe that anything that has happened would force the committee to allow either a one-loss, non-conference champion Texas A&M (who lost by 28 to Alabama) or a (potential) two-loss, conference champion Florida (who lost A&M and a then 3-5 LSU) jump into the top four pushing OSU out of the playoffs.
Don’t get me started on the committee’s refusal to acknowledge the existence of Cincinnati and Coastal Carolina, but that’s a different column.
You might want to say that one of those teams is better than Ohio State and therefore deserves one of the four playoff spots. In turn, I would want to say that you are wrong, but we could have that argument; but that is not how the committee has ever operated.
They pick teams based on resume, and OSU has the major advantages of having a zero in the loss column, a check mark in the conference title column, and the committee has been telling us for weeks — via their rankings — that they believe that the Buckeyes are one of the four best teams in the country. What has changed since last Tuesday?
Jimbo’s boys beat a 3-5 Tennessee on Saturday? Whoopti-freaking-do. That’s certainly not going to move the needle. Also, no team that has lost a game by four touchdowns has ever made the CFP in the same season. Sorry Jimbo, have fun in the Outback bowl.
What about in the SEC? Sure, Florida could beat ‘Bama tonight (they won’t), but they still lost to LSU last week and no two-loss team has ever made the playoffs.
Literally the only thing that could potentially sway the committee away from having OSU in the semis is the number of players who were unavailable today and how that could impact the Buckeye roster for the College Football Playoff on Jan. 1. Now, we do not yet know which players (other than Drue Chrisman who confirmed his positive diagnosis on Twitter) were out for COVID, for contact tracing, and for other illnesses and injuries.
But, according to current Big Ten rules, anyone who tested positive this past week will not be available in time for the semifinals. The committee could take into consideration that players like Chris Olave, Baron Browning, Javontae Jean-Baptiste, or Tyler Friday might not be available. I think that would be a legitimate way to approach trying to piece together the playoffs.
However, while there are rumors out there about who in fact tested positive, there has also been very public discussions about the Big Ten amending their rule requiring players who test positive to sit out for 21-days in order to be more in line with both other conferences and the CDC. If it gets cut to say 14 days, as long as those positive tests came before Friday, Dec. 18, they could potentially be back, assuming they are healthy and meet all of the other requirements.
So, I have to imagine that seeing a depleted Buckeyes beat the No. 14 team in the country by 12 points was more than enough to seal their invitation to the playoffs.
Dabo Swinney and Jimbo and Dan Mullen can all plead their case for a spot, but they aren’t arguing to take Ohio State’s spot, their arguing to earn a hypothetical fourth spot created by some other form of chaos in which Ohio State is already in.
After some unexpected start and stops, I am back to posting a column almost every single day from preseason camp until whenever Ohio State’s football season ends. Some days they will be longer and in depth, some days they will be short and sweet. Let me know what you think of this one, and what you’d like to see me discuss in the comments or on Twitter. Go Bucks!