In a year that is certainly unlike any other, Ohio State is in the College Football Playoff. This despite the fact that they basically had to back-into the Big Ten Championship Game.

The Buckeyes overcame a sluggish first half on Saturday, beating No. 14 Northwestern 22-10 to claim the Big Ten title. But to even get there, Ohio State had to have some strings pulled.

Due to COVID-19 protocols, Ohio State lost out on three regular season games, meaning that even at 5-0, they were a game below the threshold to qualify for the conference championship game.

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But the Big Ten waived the requirement and on Sunday following their win over Northwestern, they were announced as one of the four teams to make the college football playoff.

“The committee decided that Ohio State belonged in the field because they’re undefeated, they had beaten two ranked teams throughout the year, including last night, and they won their B1G Championship,” said CFP chair Gary Barta, who also serves as Iowa’s athletic director.

“So, that’s why the committee decided it. Certainly, we talked a lot since the beginning of the year that there would be a differential in the number of games played, but in the end it came down to the committee feeling strongly that undefeated, beating those ranked teams and winning a conference championship [got them in].”

Ohio State hasn’t had a terribly difficult schedule, with speculation that a team such as Texas A&M or Cincinnati would have been equally if not more deserving of making the playoff.

The Buckeyes played (and beat) two ranked teams this year, a 42-35 home win over Indiana earlier in the season and Saturday’s win against Northwestern.

“In the end, there was not dissension in the room naming Ohio State in that third spot,” Barta said.