Ohio State slotted in at No. 7 in this week’s CFP rankings, which means one thing… You’re telling me there’s a chance! The odds are long. Very, very, very long — but a guy can dream, right?
In all reality, the Buckeyes are on the outside looking in, and they only have themselves to blame. The team was well-positioned to enter the CFP ranked No. 1 or No. 2 had they handled business against TTUN and eventually Iowa. Instead, we are stuck watching a rock fight of a Big Ten Championship and rooting for the world’s first double-loss. I’m pulling for one team in that game (which I’ll get to), and you should be too.
As it stands, Georgia, TTUN, Alabama, and Cincinnati occupy the top four spots. They could easily maintain their positions, and a lack of chaos would (at most) only change the order of those four teams. Well, I am rooting for total and utter chaos, not just because it would favor Ohio State. I am rooting for chaos because why not? If any CFB season was going to go completely off the rails, 2021 is off to a heck of a start. Let’s finish strong.
We’ve seen OSU, Clemson, and Oklahoma all but eliminated before conference championships. Notre Dame, which is a viable contender, doesn’t even have the coach that led them to the No. 6 spot. To top it all off, Jim Harbaugh won a huge game! Even after the madness of 2020, I bet you did not have a lot of these events on your BINGO card.
So what is chaos? What would it look like for college football?
Realistically, “chaos” would not be very chaotic at all. TTUN, Alabama, and Cincinnati all play tough opponents. Outside of the top four, Oklahoma State could easily lose, which would leave almost every other serious contender with two losses. Notre Dame does not play a conference championship, and the fact that they currently lack a coach — and a respectable schedule — could be held against them. If you are like me, and a glutton for punishment, pull for chaos this weekend.
As unlikely as it might seem, here is what we (Buckeye fans) need:
TTUN loses to Iowa
Remember when Iowa was awesome? In October, the Hawkeyes moved all the way up to No. 2 in the polls. Unfortunately for them, they welcomed in Purdue and lost the very next week. I like to call that The Kirk Ferentz Special: win some games, fool some people, lose, but then get a contract extension. If we could all be so lucky. Fortunately for OSU, Iowa is just good enough to potentially pull this one off.
Iowa’s offense is pretty rough, but they don’t need to be explosive — and they don’t try to be. They know the recipe. They are going to run the ball and look for occasional shots downfield. It could be tough sledding against TTUN, but again, this is 2021. On the defensive side of the ball, the Hawkeyes were exposed a bit at times, but the talent and ability to create turnovers is still there. They are strong against the run, which is *ichigan’s strength, and if they force Cade McNamara to throw the ball, turnovers could play a role in the outcome. I honestly believe Iowa has a chance in a close, low-scoring game.
Georgia holds firm, defeats Alabama
Alabama is not a world-beater this season. Are they good? Absolutely. Also capable of losing two games? Hell yes. Since losing at Texas A&M, Bama has the following notable victories: a six-point win over .500 LSU, a seven-point win over four-loss Arkansas, a two-point win (in OT) over .500 Auburn, and comfortable wins over Mississippi State, Tennessee, and the mighty New Mexico state. A true gauntlet.
The Crimson Tide are due for a loss in which they do not pull a victory out of their you-know-what. All Auburn had to do was fall down! But we’re not talking about Auburn. Georgia is the superior team in this matchup. Their passing game is lacking explosiveness, but it’s dangerous enough and complimented by a great running game. This is not the Alabama defense of old. They can be run on, passed on, and scored on.
On the other side of the ball, the Tide have an explosive passing game and Heisman candidate Bryce Young. However, the ground attack is been a bit underwhelming. Fifth-year senior Brian Robinson has averaged 4.9 YPC this season, including a performance against LSU in which he carried the ball 13 times for 18 yards. Georgia has the best defense in the country, and Derrick Henry isn’t walking into the locker room for Alabama.
A Bama victory would only be a mild upset, and even they lose, the CFP committee might be tempted to keep them in the top-four anyway. However, at the end of the day, there is no way on God’s green earth that the committee would set up a third matchup between these two teams. So go Dawgs!
Cincinnati loses to Houston
Rooting for this outcome stings, but only a little bit. We need Luke Fickell to lose; sorry. Fick has put together back-to-back great seasons and elevated UC to another level. He is, or was, a candidate for the Notre Dame vacancy. That’s good enough, right? Do your alma mater a favor here and take a dive.
Houston is sneaky good (10th in offensive PPG, 18th in PPG allowed), and Dana Holgorsen is an experienced coach who has coached successful teams in the past. Holgorsen, the Big Ernie McCracken doppelgänger, has been the man behind some high-octane offenses at Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, West Virginia, and now Houston (for a second time). He will likely look to outscore the Bearcats. UC’s offense has sputtered a bit as of late, making this a more intriguing game than I think a lot of people give it credit for.
Buckeye fans will always have an appreciation for Luke Fickell, and likely want to see an in-state program have a shot at this thing. I’ll pass. I do love Fick, but I am a selfish individual. UC’s program success means very little to me in the grand scheme of things. If Ohio State was completely out of this thing, I would be singing a different tune. As of now, consider me a Cougars fan… Cougars football team. Football.
Oklahoma State loses to Baylor (maybe)
Mike Gundy’s Cowboys currently sit at No. 5 in the CFP rankings, and if I’m being honest, I love the mullet. Oklahoma State has outkicked their coverage (no pun intended) and managed to earn a spot in the Big 12 Championship over Oklahoma. Good luck to Lincoln Riley by the way — I hope he doesn’t run into DeMarco Murray anytime soon.
Oklahoma State plays a revamped Baylor team under the leadership of Dave Aranda. Aranda was the defensive coordinator I always wanted for Ohio State, but who can blame him for tacking a HC gig. He has taken Baylor from a 2-7 record to a 10-2 football team. I don’t have a real feel for this one, but if Baylor is able to pull of the mild upset, it might come down to an argument between the Bears and Ohio State. I personally think OSU deserves the edge, but it would be hard to ignore a conference champion. Call this outcome a possible need.
So that’s it, folks. That is likely all that needs to happen for Ohio State to earn a spot in the playoff. Pretty simple, really. But you and I both know that the Buckeyes just don’t deserve it this year. Are they, or were they, capable of winning it all? I think so. I think the offense could have scored on anybody, especially in a neutral setting. Unfortunately, the team gave itself little-to-no margin for error. They were embarrassed in The Big House, and it sucks. For lack of a better word, it is disappointing.
However, this is part of the reason we all love rooting for the Buckeyes. Each new season begins with hope. As fans, we expect them to win every game. We expect National Championship appearances every year. We want to beat the best, be the best, and it is a tough pill to swallow when OSU’s season ends before the seemingly annual trip to Indianapolis. But all hope is not lost… yet.
Here’s to chaos, and may the CFB world tilt on its axis in favor of Ohio State.