The Ohio State Buckeyes beat the Michigan Wolverines in a classic double overtime game at the Horseshoe on Saturday afternoon. The win has thrown the College Football Playoffs into a quagmire with only one weekend to go. Had the Michigan State Spartans been able to upset the Penn State Nittany Lions, there would be no problems. But the Lions have won the Big Ten East and will take on the Wisconsin Badgers for the Big Ten Championship.
So the one-loss Buckeyes will sit home next week while two two-loss teams battle for the conference championship. If the playoff committee members value winning the conference championship, then the Bucks could be in danger of not making the playoffs. If they go by the entire body of work though, the Buckeyes should be a lock.
While the conference champions should be given fair consideration, we believe that the Buckeyes deserve to be in. It makes no sense to ignore non-conference games such as the Penn State loss to the Pittsburgh Panthers and the Buckeyes win over the Oklahoma Sooners. Those are big games that should count for something. Just because Pitt is in the ACC does not mean that losing to them shouldn’t count.
The argument will be made that if Washington wins the Pac 12 with one loss, Alabama wins the SEC with no losses and then Clemson wins the ACC with one loss, then they should all be in, and I would not disagree. But does Penn State or wisconsin deserve to be included over Ohio State? Yes, Penn State beat the Buckeyes but they lost to Pitt and Michigan. Ohio State beat Michigan and won their tough non-conference game over Oklahoma, who is ranked higher than Pitt. And if Wisconsin wins, Ohio State beat them head to head and also has one fewer loss.
The precedent was set five seasons ago when the Alabama Crimson Tide was awarded a spot in the BCS Championship Game despite not winning the SEC West. They took on the LSU Tigers who did win the SEC that year and walloped them 21-0 for the National Championship. That was done even with other one loss conference champs such as the Oklahoma State Cowboys sitting there in contention. Looking at the entire body of work, it was hard to keep Alabama out. Keeping the Buckeyes out this year would be just as difficult.
The win over the Wolverines was not without controversy. The Bucks appeared they may have been stopped short on fourth down in the second overtime, which would have given the win to the Wolverines and sent them to the BIg Ten Championship. But the Buckeyes got a friendly spot and then replay did not overturn the spot. Michigan Coach Jim Harbaugh was visibly upset over the spot and let his feelings be known in the post game press conference.
Ohio State will now sit back and watch while the other teams in playoff contention play nest week. They will probably be rooting for the Colorado Buffaloes to beat Washington, which would put them in for sure. But they should get in anyway.