5 reasons Ohio State should make the College Football Playoff — even if it isn't able to play in the B1G title game
Well, it looks like there’s a good chance some decisions will have to be made.
Will Ohio State have enough games to qualify for the B1G title game? Maybe. But if the Buckeyes don’t, will the B1G higher-ups tweak the rules so the league’s only undefeated team doesn’t sit home Dec. 19 (or play somewhere other than Indianapolis?) and possibly lose any chance at making the College Football Playoff? They should.
What happens if the Buckeyes have to cancel another game — this time against Michigan State next week — which would leave them with a 4-0 record going into the last game of the season against Michigan? You have to think they will defeat the Wolverines en route to a 5-0 regular season, which means they’d be one game short of the six needed to qualify for the B1G championship Game. In that scenario, Indiana would likely take their place and face Northwestern (5-1 after its loss to Michigan State) for the title.
And Ohio State would be left on the outside, looking in. The debate would begin: Does Ohio State deserve to make it to the College Football Playoff? In my eyes, yes.
I’ll give you 5 reasons:
1. The offense
Don’t think this offense belongs in the Playoff? Let’s just go by the numbers. According to ESPN, Ohio State’s offensive efficiency ranks No. 3 in the country (the defense is No. 23). Notable numbers:
- Overall efficiency rank: No. 3
- Football Power Index: No. 2
- Strength of record: No. 7
The offense is producing 535.3 yards and 45.3 points per game, both good for 7th in the country (out of the major conference teams, only Alabama, Oklahoma and Clemson average more). The unit features an extremely balanced attack of 233.3 yards per game on the ground (16th in the country) and 302 yards through the air (22nd in the country).
The point? This is the offense of one of the top four teams in the country. The numbers pan out. It belongs in the Playoff.
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2. Star power
Let’s face it: Justin Fields belongs in the playoff race.
Here’s more numbers: In four games, the guy had thrown 113 times and completed 90 of those passes for a ridiculous percentage of 79.6. He’s thrown 13 touchdowns against 3 interceptions and run for another 135 yards and 3 touchdowns.
He’s the captain of one of the most explosive units in America. To not see it — and him — perform on the biggest collegiate stage would be a shame.
Historically, Fields has lost one game as a starter — against Clemson in last season’s Playoff — and he wants to play the Tigers one more time before he heads to the NFL.
3. The rematch
That’s probably the biggest game the country wants to see — the rematch between Ohio State and Clemson. After some questionable calls and an ill-timed interception gave the Tigers the win last season, the Buckeyes are out for blood. This game has huge television ratings written all over it.
Plus, this will always be referred to as the COVID year. Games are being canceled left and right. Notre Dame is ranked second because they beat a Clemson team that didn’t have its starting quarterback. It sucks, but Clemson wasn’t really punished for losing.
In the same fashion, Ohio State can’t be punished for the B1G’s faults. Because they started their college football season so late, and because they did not plan for a make-up week, Ohio State should not have to suffer. All they’ve done is win all of the football games they’ve been allowed to play.
4. They’re undefeated, and largely untested
By the time they finish the regular season, the Buckeyes will probably be 5-0. Critics will say that’s not even half a season.
But along the way, they will have won every game, and up until this point, they have never been in danger of losing one. The only other team in the top 5 that can really say that is Alabama. And all the other top 5 teams have also played poorly over a half, or even an entire game (Alabama against Kentucky, Notre Dame against Louisville and Clemson against Boston College come to mind).
In short, Ohio State has done all it can do.
5. The eye test
Which brings us to The Eye Test. At some point, you just have to choose, right? And Ball Don’t Lie.
Some will say Cincinnati needs to be in the conversation. I’ve heard this argument before. Heck, I live here, and whenever the Bearcats get really good, everyone wants to play the Buckeyes. Well, that happened last season, and Ohio State won 42-0. It was a statement game. The Buckeyes said: You aren’t on our level, and I think it’s still true. The SMU and Army wins look nice for the Bearcats, but I also watched Cincinnati struggle to beat Central Florida.
I still don’t think the Bearcats have made it to the top tier. Same goes for BYU, who people want to see climb the ladder. The struggle there is the Cougars have too many teams in front of them.
That brings us to another SEC team, someone like Texas A&M or Florida. Well, the Aggies got walloped by Alabama 52-24. I don’t see why anyone would think the outcome would be any different a second time around. And Florida was beaten by A&M, plus, the Gators will get their shot against the Tide in the SEC Championship. We’ll see how that goes.
It brings us to Northwestern. They had a great run, and along with Indiana, the Wildcats were the story of the conference before Saturday’s stunning upset. But now the point is moot. I think if Northwestern plays Indiana in the B1G title game instead of Ohio State, Indiana beats Northwestern. Maybe by a lot.
And that makes it all the more probable that the voters choose a 5-0 Ohio State team — one that did not win the B1G title — for the fourth spot in the Playoff.
The truth is, there’s no better team out there. The numbers say it. The eye test says it.