After Ohio State’s dominating 62-39 victory over Michigan on Saturday, the Buckeyes eliminated the Wolverines’ playoff hopes and re-ignited theirs.
No one was really giving Ohio State a chance to make the College Football Playoff coming into Saturday despite a 10-1 record and being 10th in the latest rankings. There was legit reasoning too, a blowout loss to Purdue last month and their defense, which has normally been their strong suit over the years hadn’t looked promising throughout the season.
Ohio State silenced some critics dominating the top-ranked defense in the country with a rivalry record 62 points and 567 yards of offense.
Dwayne Haskins added to his Heisman resume with 318 yards and five touchdown passes, becoming the first quarterback in Big Ten history with over 4,000 yards passing and 40 touchdowns in a single season.
Parris Campbell in his final game in Columbus had six offensive touches (1 carry, 5 catches) for 192 yards from scrimmage (78 rushing, 114 receiving) and two touchdowns. Mike Weber came up big against his home state’s team with 96 yards rushing and a touchdown as well.
Ohio State’s win clinched them the East division in the Big Ten Conference and punched their ticket to the Big Ten Championship game next Saturday in Indianapolis against #19 Northwestern.
Should the Buckeyes win, that’ll give them a conference championship which the committee uses as part of their criteria when determining the four playoff teams. It would also give Ohio State their fifth win against a ranked opponent this season which should bode well for the Buckeyes when it comes to strength of schedule.
As the rankings stand right now with Alabama at #1, Clemson at #2 and Notre Dame at #3, they will all make it by winning out. Alabama plays Georgia in the SEC Championship and Clemson plays Pittsburgh in the ACC Championship next Saturday. Notre Dame is an independent so they need to beat USC on Saturday night to essentially clinch their playoff berth.
The other teams Ohio State is fighting with right now is 6th ranked Oklahoma and 9th ranked Central Florida.
Oklahoma is currently 11-1 on the season and will play against Texas in the Big 12 Championship game next Saturday. Their lone loss was to Texas earlier in the season in a 48-45 shootout. Their schedule hasn’t nearly been as strong as Ohio State’s playing only two teams that were ranked at the time of their matchups (Texas and West Virginia).
The so-called experts want to point out how bad Ohio State’s defense has been (25.8 points allowed per game-53rd in the nation) but no one seems to talk about Oklahoma’s defense (32.8 points allowed per game-100th in the nation). Their offense has been unbelievable led by Heisman contending quarterback Kyler Murray but if you’re looking at the whole body of work, Buckeyes should get the edge.
Central Florida has been on a fantastic roll the last two seasons and are currently on a 24-game winning streak, the longest in the nation. Last year they didn’t make the playoff but self proclaimed themselves “National Champions” after finishing undefeated after defeating Auburn in the Peach Bowl.
They still have a conference championship to play as they’ll face Memphis in the American Athletic Conference championship game next Saturday. Memphis gave them a tough game earlier this season but Central Florida edged them 31-30.
Unfortunately, they lost their starting quarterback McKenzie Milton with a gruesome leg injury in Friday’s 38-10 win over South Florida. They leaned on the running game in the victory but it’ll be interesting to see how backup quarterback Darriel Mack Jr. will perform for the Knights.
If the Knights do win the conference, they should definitely be in the consideration for the final playoff spot. It’ll be their second consecutive season going undefeated and winning their conference. Their run is comparable to Boise State of the mid-2000s who were running off undefeated seasons but wouldn’t get the respect of voters towards the BCS system.
The Knights being left out of the playoff once again will just create more noise to expand the playoff from four teams to eight teams which I believe should happen already because the four team system has been successful but there’s still been controversy surrounding the selections. An eight team playoff would be better but that’ll just lead to an eventual sixteen team playoff and so on and so forth.
At the end of the day, the Buckeyes just need to take care of business next Saturday against Northwestern. While some would say they don’t deserve to be in the playoff, their resume speaks for itself and a conference championship would be icing on the cake for the Buckeyes to once again make the playoff where they showed a few years ago that being the underdog means anything can happen.