The jump in the rankings was expected after the Ohio State Buckeyes demolished Mich-Again. They did exactly what they needed to do in The Game. The problem is that even with that win, the Ohio State Buckeyes, who are now ranked No. 6 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings, are still behind No. 5 Oklahoma.
“Oklahoma has a little bit stronger schedule than Ohio State at this point,” College Football Playoff chairman Rob Mullens said of keeping the Sooners above the Buckeyes. “You look at Oklahoma, you see their only loss is to a ranked Texas at a neutral site, impressive road wins against ranked West Virginia, ranked (Iowa) State. You line that up against Ohio State with a loss against Purdue, then obviously an incredibly impressive win versus Michigan last week, then a quality road win over Penn State.”
The Buckeyes have two better wins than Oklahoma (over No. 12 Penn State and No. 7 Michigan compared to No. 16 West Virginia and No. 23 Iowa State), the problem is that Ohio State’s loss was a blowout against an unranked Purdue team while the Sooners’ was against the Longhorns.
Ohio State and Oklahoma are very comparable, especially offense. The Sooners have the No. 1-ranked offense in the country; the Buckeyes are right behind them at No. 2. The biggest difference seems to be at defense. Although the scarlet and gray have struggled for much of the year defensively, Oklahoma is even worse. In fact, they have one of the worst defenses in the country. With that said, the committee seems to love how electric the Sooners’ offense is, especially quarterback Kyler Murray.
Remaining game (if there is one) for teams ranked ahead of Ohio State:
- Alabama (12-0): SEC Championship vs. No. 4 Georgia
- Clemson (12-0): ACC Championship vs. Pittsburgh
- Notre Dame (12-0)
- Georgia (11-1): SEC Championship vs. No. 1 Alabama
- Oklahoma (11-1): Big 12 Championship vs. No. 14 Texas
If any team would know about being No. 6 in the second-to-last Playoff rankings and thinking that even with a win in the Big Ten Championship game, it would still be tough to get into the Final Four, it would be Ohio State. During the Buckeyes’ championship run in the inaugural Playoff in 2015, the scarlet and gray were the sixth-ranked team in the country heading into conference championship weekend. Due to them blowing out then-No. 11 Wisconsin, 59-0, they leapfrogged to No. 4 in the final rankings, therefore making the Playoff.
The problem with that is:
- It would be hard to win 59-0 like that again.
- Northwestern isn’t No. 11, they’re No. 21, therefore meaning that it won’t be as impressive of a win.
- Meanwhile, Oklahoma plays the 14th-ranked Longhorns.
- The committee has doubted Ohio State ever since they were blown out at Purdue a little over a month ago. Dominating Michigan helps, but the doubt is still there.
The easiest route to the Playoff is for the Buckeyes to beat Northwestern and Oklahoma to lose to Texas for the second time this season. If both teams win, it may leave Ohio State out of the playoff. The Buckeyes can only worry about their game, but you know Buckeye Nation will have their eyes on the Big 12 Championship as well, and deservedly so. Keep in mind, the Longhorns gave the Sooners their only loss of the season.
Along with Oklahoma needing to lose to create the easiest path, Alabama also has to beat Georgia. The Crimson Tide and Notre Dame (and probably even Clemson) are already in the Playoff. Alabama losing to Georgia would mean that both the Bulldogs and Crimson Tide would make the Final Four, leaving Ohio State on the outside looking in. If anyone can do it’s Ohio State. Can they be as lucky as they were a few years ago? We just have to wait and see.
Until then, Buckeye fans need to be huge Alabama and Texas fans this weekend, along with (obviously) rooting for the scarlet and gray.