The Ohio State Buckeyes took care of business against then-No. 8 Wisconsin (again) Saturday night to win its third consecutive Big Ten title, but the scarlet and gray’s ugly first half might have cost them the No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoff. With LSU dominating then-No. 4 Georgia Bulldogs Saturday afternoon, the Tigers jumped the Buckeyes for the top spot in the latest (and last) CFP rankings of the year.
The Buckeyes made it look easy in the second half against the Badgers, scoring 27 unanswered points in the final two quarters to beat Wisconsin, 34-21, but it was the fact that they trailed 21-7 at halftime that seemingly caught the committee’s attention. Considering LSU had just made it look easy against Georgia, beating the Bulldogs, 37-16, in was a bad combination for the Buckeyes, as we have now seen Sunday afternoon when the newest and last rankings of the season were revealed.
Why did being the No. 1 seed matter? There are only three undefeated teams in the FBS: LSU, Ohio State, and Clemson. Whoever finished No.1 would be matched up with 12-1 Oklahoma, the other two would have to face each other in the semifinal. While all four teams are very, very good, there’s a big difference between the top three teams and the rest of the country, including the Sooners. Then again, you have to beat the best to be the best. Head coach Ryan Day knows that even if he thinks his team should have been the No. 1 seed.
“At the end of the day, you have to beat the best to go win the national championship,” Day said following the rankings being revealed.
In a game that Buckeye Nation most likely already forgot about, the last time Ohio State and Clemson played each other, the Buckeyes were shutout by the Tigers. In fact, the Buckeyes have yet to beat Clemson, losing all three matchups, the latest being a 31-0 drubbing in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl and the Playoff semifinal. It’s a game that the scarlet and gray learned from but know that they are a completely different team now.
“When we played Clemson in 2016, it was a different era of Ohio State,” defensive tackle Robert Landers said. “I feel like the team that we are now is completely different from the team that we were in 2016 … yes, it’s in the history books, but that’s it, it’s history. We gotta focus on the present.”
This year’s version of the rematch will be a rematch of that 2016 semifinal game in the same stadium in Glendale, Arizona. The only difference is that the seeds are reversed. Ohio State hopes the outcome will be reversed as well.
Looking ahead, Ohio State seemed to have teased the possible return of the gray sleeves that they wore during their national title run in the inaugural Playoff in 2014. Buckeye Nation has wanted this to happen for quite a while, so this will be well-liked by fans.
The Playoff semifinals will be Saturday, December 28. LSU and Oklahoma will kick things off at 4 p.m., with Ohio State and Clemson closing out the day in the nightcap at 8 p.m.