Joel Klatt claims Ohio State would have won the 2015 College Football Playoff
Joel Klatt believes Ohio State could have won the national championship in 2015 — had it got into the College Football Playoff.
On his podcast this week, Klatt was asked which teams would have won a title as a lower seed had a 12-team Playoff been in place in past years. He altered the prompt slightly to give three Playoff-era teams (since 2014) that missed the CFP but could have won it all had they been selected. Urban Meyer’s fourth Ohio State team was one of them.
“They only lost one game and I believe it was due to poor coaching. I’ve said this – don’t worry. Everyone is like don’t tweet Coach Meyer but I’ve said it right to his face. If Ezekiel Elliott gets the ball more against Michigan State? They win that game,” Klatt said. “They lost at home to Connor Cook’s Michigan State team and didn’t even go to the Big Ten Championship Game and missed out on the playoff.
“I think the 2015 Ohio State team, that’s a team that definitely could’ve won the national championship. Lost to Michigan State by three, largely because they tried to run the ball way too much with J.T. Barrett and not with Ezekiel Elliott. They should have given the ball to Elliott. Give it to him 20 times, they win that game maybe by one, maybe by seven. And then they’re in the playoff and maybe win the national championship.”
Ohio State had won the national championship the year prior as a 4-seed in the CFP. Entering that game against Michigan State on Nov. 21, 2015, Ohio State had won 23 consecutive games. The Buckeyes were No. 2 in the country and cruising toward another CFP appearance.
MSU outscored Ohio State 10-0 in the fourth quarter and kicked a game-winning field goal as time expired to win. Elliott got just 12 carries in the game, but he also only produced 33 yards. Barrett had 44 yards on 15 carries. Still, that was the only game all season in which Elliott was held under 100 yards rushing. He went for 181 the week prior against Illinois, and he ran for 214 the following week in a win over Michigan.
Michigan State went on to beat Iowa in the Big Ten title game and secure a spot in the Playoff. But the Spartans were matched up with Alabama, and they proved to be woefully undermanned. The Crimson Tide won 38-0 to advance to the national title game, where they beat Clemson 45-40.
When the debate of “best” or “most deserving” rages around Playoff selection time, that 2015 Michigan State squad is often cited as a team that got in despite not being one of the clear-cut “best” teams in college football. Ohio State, which finished the season with the No. 3 defense in the country (by yards per play), certainly looked like one of the best though.