Everybody knows that one of the best parts of being a sports fan is debating and dissecting the most (and least) important questions in the sporting world with your friends. So, we’re bringing that to the pages of LGHL with our favorite head-to-head column: You’re Nuts.
In You’re Nuts, two LGHL staff members will take differing sides of one question and argue their opinions passionately. Then, in the end, it’s up to you to determine who’s right and who’s nuts.
Today’s Question: Which possible opponent would you most like Ohio State to meet in a College Football Playoff semifinal?
Editor’s note: On Tuesday night, it was announced that the Buckeyes maintained their position at No. 2 in the College Football Playoff rankings. While there is a lot that can happen between now and Sunday, Dec. 4 when the official CFP seedings are announced (including The Game against those pesky Mitten State Skunk Bears), we are fans, so we are going to work on the assumption that Ohio State will be in the final four playing for a title this season.
Jami’s Take: Tennessee Volunteers
Hear me out – it’s not over for Tennessee, not by a long shot, and for reasons both selfish and practical, I would love for the Buckeyes to meet the Vols in the semi-finals.
Sure, a large part of this has to do with my in-house rivalry between my baby brother (a recent Tennessee grad) and me (a not-so-recent OSU grad). But a lot more of this has to do with the fact that I think this would be legitimately great football, a matchup for the ages if you will.
And because I am a petty human who doesn’t want Georgia to feel the joy of a repeat, I also like this matchup because I think these two teams would be the most likely to defeat Georgia in a championship matchup.
First things first – how is this one-loss Vols team going to make the Playoffs when there are still four undefeated teams? Let’s break it down.
Tennessee currently falls at No. 5 in the rankings, so they need to move up one spot in order to make the playoffs. Assuming Georgia wins out and defeats LSU in the SEC Conference Championship, the remaining teams are Ohio State, Michigan, and TCU.
If TCU loses a game in the next two weeks, Tennessee would likely slot into that No. 4 spot on strength of schedule alone. But with OSU and Michigan still undefeated going into The Game, we know for a fact that either the No. 2 team or the No. 3 team will end the season with one loss (it will be the No. 3 team).
That means even if TCU wins out, a 1-loss team will sneak into the fourth spot. Because The Game is the last week of the season, it doesn’t leave a lot of time to bounce back, so it’s unlikely the loser of OSU-Michigan will eke in. USC could potentially make a strong case if they run the table in the Pac-12 and win the conference title.
But it’s also extremely possible that Tennessee, whose only loss is to the No. 1 team in the country and who beat Alabama earlier this year, could have done enough this year to impress the committee and get that fourth spot.
So let’s say all the pieces fall into place for the Vols – OSU beats Michigan, TCU loses, USC loses a game for good measure. The Vols could even sneak into the No. 3 spot, meaning the Buckeyes could meet them in the semi-final game. And what a game it would be.
The showdown between C.J. Stroud and Hendon Hooker would be one for the ages, in my opinion. We could hypothetically see two Heisman hopefuls go tit-for-tat for 60 minutes.
But neither team is a one-trick pony. Tennessee’s run game has steadily improved throughout the season, and while OSU’s run game has struggled this year, we know Stroud has wheels. The Buckeyes will have to run the ball and be able to stop the run against Michigan, so by the time the semifinals roll around, we can assume they’ll have worked out some kinks in this area.
At the end of the day, my No. 1 priority is to see the Buckeyes in the National Championship (the game is on my birthday about 10 minutes from my apartment, after all). But my No. 2 priority is to watch some great football. And I believe OSU and Tennessee would give us one of the best games we’d see all season.
Matt’s Take: USC Trojans
Perhaps it is simply because I am old, but give me the old-school Pac-12/Big Ten Rose Bowl matchup. There is so much tradition surrounding these two blue-blood programs that having the opportunity to meet one more time as inter-conference foes before becoming intra-conference rivals would be just an incredibly magical moment.
A lot of people have written off the Trojans’ chances of making the playoff, because they essentially play no defense and still have to play UCLA, Notre Dame, and either Utah or Oregon in the conference title game, but as I argued over the weekend, essentially everyone in the Pac-12 is flawed, and with a three-game stretch to end the season like that, if Southern Cal can pull it off, they are a shoo-in for the final four.
The fine folks over at DraftKings Sportsbook aren’t on board just yet, but with each win the Men of Troy pull down, those numbers will obviously increase. Currently, USC is tied for the sixth-best odds to make the CFP with Clemson at +450.
Ahead of them, are Georgia (-5000), Ohio State (-650), Tennessee (-350), TTUN (+130), and TCU (+230).
But beyond the odds, while I am very much in the pro-evolution camp of college football fans, there is a part of me that still holds the traditional Rose Bowl rivalries and pageantry close to my heart and having the flagship schools of these stories conference face off (albeit on New Year’s Eve instead of New Years Day) would just be special. Then, when you throw in the fact that after next season, they will be in the same conference and there are just so many storylines.
Then there’s the on-field aspect. USC is currently the 51st-ranked scoring defense and 88th-ranked overall defense. They are especially susceptible against the pass, giving up 252.7 yards through the air per game, good for 98th nationally. Please let C.J. Stroud, Marvin Harrison Jr., Emeka Egbuka, Julian Fleming, Cade Stover, and (hopefully) Jaxon Smith-Njigba play against that unit for a spot in the College Football Playoff title game.
Of course, USC’s scoring offense is third nationally, behind only Tennessee and OSU, but at least we know the game will be entertaining.
Who has the right answer to today’s question?
This poll is closed