“I don’t have to wait until the next morning to regret something I did that was kinda dumb.” ~ Bobby Knight
Absolutely, Coach Knight. For the players, coaches, and fans of the Ohio State Buckeyes, the painful 30-24 loss to That Team Up North is going to linger for the next year — the feelings of regret kicked in as soon as the clock hit zero in Michigan Stadium on Nov. 25.
The regret and remorse will be deeply felt by all associated with the program, and into the 2024 offseason of preparation. The reality is that Ohio State does have another bowl game to play, but has to play the waiting game to determine both their opponent and destination.
As Ohio State presently sits at No. 6 in the penultimate College Football Playoff rankings, the Buckeyes are truly beholden to the help of other teams for any shred of assistance that might squeeze them into the fourth and final playoff spot. Is it impossible for Ohio State to reach the playoffs? No, but certain teams must lose in their respective conference championship games that are going to be played this weekend.
Below are Three Games To Watch, with random thoughts on which teams Ohio State fans should be rooting for, as well as my predictions on what may transpire...
The Pac-12 Championship Game: No. 5 Oregon versus No. 3 Washington
ABC, Friday @ 8pm ET
Washington defeated Oregon back on Oct. 14, 36-33. As soon as the game concluded, there were predictions that both teams were going to meet up in what appears to be the swan song performance for the Pac-12 conference championship game.
As to which team should Ohio State fans should root for, it is my belief that the winner is guaranteed a spot in the College Football Playoff, no matter what. Yes, there are thoughts that Ohio State fans should root for Washington, to ensure that Oregon gets a second loss and would be ranked below Ohio State, but the reality is that Oregon is one of the better teams in the nation, and will leapfrog the Buckeyes if they defeat Washington.
My prediction? Oregon has been looking especially formidable, while Washington has been having some very close calls down the stretch. It should be a good one to watch, and I believe Oregon defeats Washington to claim the Pac-12 conference championship, and is slotted third in the final College Football Playoff rankings.
2. The Big 12 Conference Championship Game: No. 18 Oklahoma State versus No. 7 Texas
ABC, Saturday @ 12pm ET
At first glance, it would be understandable for Ohio State fans to shrug this game off, as the Texas Longhorns are ranked seventh, one spot behind Ohio State. Why be concerned or pay attention to this game?
Think of it this way — Texas, like Ohio State, only has one loss. BUT the Longhorns are playing for their conference championship, unlike the Buckeyes. A Texas win, plus a Florida State loss (more on that below), could propel Texas past Ohio State into the fourth College Football Playoff spot.
Texas is heavily favored by the oddsmakers, but hope is not completely lost for Ohio State fans. Oklahoma State has won eight of the last 10 games against Texas, so here is to rooting for Mike Gundy and the Cowboys.
Oklahoma State has won 8 of the last 10 meetings against Texas— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) November 29, 2023
The last 6 games were one-possession games, how close will this one be? ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/9g7twEtf4t
3. The ACC Championship Game: No. 14 Louisville versus No. 4 Florida State
ABC, Saturday @ 8pm ET
The conference championship game that most Ohio State or Big Ten fans do not watch, simply because it is going up against the same time as The Big Ten Championship Game on Fox. My suspicion is that this viewership, especially in the great state of Ohio, will be far better than any other previous ACC Championship Game.
Plain and simple, Ohio State fans need Florida State to lose. The Seminoles are trying to make due with Tate Rodemaker at quarterback, who is playing due to the loss of Jordan Travis a few weeks ago. Florida State defeated Florida 24-15 last week, but did not look overly impressive doing so, as the Gators made numerous mistakes that contributed to the loss. The oddsmakers must agree, as the Seminoles are only a 2.5 point favorite.
Louisville is coming off a disappointing 38-31 home loss to Kentucky, so the Cardinals should be eager for a shot at redemption. With a win, Louisville would not only clinch the ACC conference championship, but earn their ticket to The Orange Bowl on Dec. 30.
As for how I believe it will turn out, I believe Georgia will win the SEC Championship Game over Alabama, while Michigan will win The Big Ten Championship Game over Iowa, securing their respective spots in the College Football Playoff as the top two seeds. As I wrote up above, I believe Oregon will win on Friday night against Washington, landing them third.
Louisville does enough against Florida State to win the ACC Championship, while Texas wins against Oklahoma State, securing their last Big 12 Championship. By virtue of Texas’ conference championship, the College Football Playoff committee rewards the Longhorns with the fourth and final spot in the College Football Playoff, leaving Ohio State fifth and on the outside looking in.
It may not be what Ohio State fans want to read, and I certainly hope to be proven wrong, but these are the kind of things that happen when a team does not secure their own destiny. Should both Florida State and Texas lose, the Buckeyes have a shot at sneaking in with that fourth seed. Hope for the best, but Ohio State fans should prepare for a likely Orange Bowl game versus Louisville on Dec. 30.