Without a conference or division title, the Ohio State Buckeyes learned during their “bye week” that they are one of the four best teams in the country. Although they dropped from No. 2 to No. 3 — swapping with the Clemson Tigers — in the final rankings of the season, the scarlet and gray are set to take on No. 2 Clemson in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl on New Year’s Eve in the second half of the semifinals.1 The first game of the semifinals will feature No. 1 Alabama against No. 4 Washington in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.
How did Ohio State get in the Playoff ahead of Penn State, who beat them head-to-head and won the Big Ten title, you ask? The committee, like many around the country, believed that the Buckeyes’ resume was much better, with only one loss (compared to the Nittany Lions’ two), and an impressive 3-1 record against the top-10, including two of those wins on the road. While conference championships are part of the decision (the previous 12 teams in the Playoff in its first three years were all conference champions), it’s not the only thing that the committee pays attention to, as chairman Kirby Hocutt pointed out following the announcement of the Final Four.
“As recent as this morning, we came back to our protocol and that is identifying the four best teams in college football. Conference championships is only one of those metrics.”
After losing 16 starters, including 12 who were selected in the NFL Draft, the Buckeyes were able to get back to the Playoff with 44 freshmen (true and red-shirt) and plenty of inexperience. To say that head coach Urban Meyer and the coaching staff did an incredible job with such a young team, along with the development of their players, would be an understatement. The Buckeyes want to win the national championship, but they have already exceeded most expectations this season.
Regarding uniforms, the Buckeyes will be rocking a similar version to the one they donned when they won the national championship in the inaugural College Football Playoffs just two short years ago in the 2014 Sugar Bowl.
— Nike Football (@usnikefootball) December 4, 2016
To get you ready for the semifinal game against Clemson, the Ohio State football team released an yet another video trailer. The video features pregame speeches from strength coach Mickey Marroitti, Meyer, and quarterback J.T. Barrett along with highlights starting with the 2015 semifinal game when the Buckeyes beat Alabama and all the way up to the double-overtime win over Michigan in the regular season finale. While I don’t want to wish away the holidays or the next few weeks, the video will make you wish it was already New Year’s Eve.
— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) December 4, 2016
In case you forgot, Clemson handed Meyer’s Buckeyes one of his five losses since he arrived in Columbus. The Tigers beat the Buckeyes, 40-35, in the 2013 Orange Bowl. Three years later, not many players from that game will be participating in the rematch.
The semifinal game between the Buckeyes and Tigers is set to kickoff at 7 p.m. ET on December 31. Alabama and Washington will start at 3:30 p.m. ET.
- For those curious, the only difference that moving from No. 2 to No. 3 is that it means the Buckeyes will be the “road team” in the game and will wear white tops instead of scarlet tops. [↩]