The Ohio State Buckeyes are set to host their arch rival, the Michigan Wolverines, Saturday afternoon. It is the first time since 2006 that both teams enter this matchup undefeated. That means there is a lot on the line in this game. Ohio Stats is currently ranked 2nd in the College Football Playoff rankings, with Michigan one spot behind them at No. 3.
Normally at this time of year, we are talking about the SEC dominating the College Football Playoff. But this year things have been very different. Alabama has already lost two games and is all but eliminated from contention. Tennessee’s shocking second loss while ranked fifth dropped them out of the race as well. The college football landscape looks very different at this time of year.
It has created the opportunity for both Ohio State and Michigan to reach the College Football Playoff for the first time. Obviously, whoever wins that game has the inside track. They will earn their spot in the Big Ten Championship. A win there, and they are automatically in the playoff.
But if Ohio State were to lose to Michigan at The Shoe Saturday, I believe they still deserve a berth in the College Football Playoff.
Ohio State deserves a College Football Playoff spot regardless of Michigan outcome
Before I dive into exactly why I believe this, I need to state that I am a die hard Michigan football fan. I have been since I was eight years old. So, this has nothing to do with being partial or subjective. If anything, I have every reason to believe otherwise. Yet, here I am stating that Ohio State has earned their place in the College Football Playoff regardless of the Michigan outcome. But I digress.
Obviously, if Ohio State wins Saturday, they are in the Big Ten title game with an automatic berth on the line for them. I believe that is what will happen. But this article is taking a looking at what happens if they lose to the Wolverines.
That would drop the Buckeyes to 11-1 and end their regular season. Despite not being able to play for a conference championship, I believe Ohio State’s resume will still be deserving to make the CFP and this is why.
The teams that would compete with the Buckeyes for the final spot would be Clemson, LSU and USC. Let’s examine each one.
The Clemson Tigers are 10-1 with South Carolina left on their schedule. They will play North Carolina in the ACC Championship Game the following week. Even if they win those two games, the Tigers’ resume is lacking. Yes, they will be a conference champion. But their loss was by 21 points to Notre Dame. The same Notre Dame that Ohio State beat 21-10. Also, Clemson’s wins do not carry nearly the weight. The ACC is having a down year, yet Clemson was a little lucky to comeback and beat Syracuse at home this year. That was far from their close win, too.
The LSU Tigers have two losses. Yes, they have a better win on their resume than Ohio State by defeating Alabama. But they were hammered by Tennessee and lost to Florida State. Assuming Georgia beats them in the SEC Championship Game, the committee cannot take a three-loss Tigers team over the Buckeyes.
Finally, there is USC. The fact that the College Football Playoff committee currently has two-loss LSU ranked ahead of one-loss USC speaks volumes. It is because their defense has been flat out atrocious this season. They can’t stop anyone. They beat their rival, UCLA, last weekend 48-45. That seemingly feels like a weekly occurrence for the Trojans. USC still needs to beat Notre Dame and then win the Pac-12 title game just to be considered.
Ohio State’s resume is very impressive
Meanwhile, when you look at what Ohio State has done on a weekly basis, it’s like oranges and apples. Unlike USC, LSU and Clemson, who each have around a +160 point differential this season, the Buckeyes have a +320. They have simply been far more consistent and impressive week in and week out.
They have a Heisman contender in CJ Stroud. In this scenario, the Buckeyes will also have the best loss of any one loss team. Michigan would move to number two in the country. It’s hard to have a better loss than that.
At the end of the day, the goal for the College Football Playoff committee should be to have the four best teams in the nation playing. Based on what we have all seen this year, you cannot tell me that Ohio State is not one of those four teams, whether they beat #3 Michigan or not.