Relax, Ohio State’s College Football Playoff hopes are not in jeopardy after game against Maryland is canceled
The news that Ohio State’s game against Maryland is canceled is disappointing on many levels. For starters, it could’ve actually been a decent game.
Even though the No. 3 Buckeyes will be sitting on the couch this weekend and now will only play a maximum of 8 games before the College Football Playoff Committee selects its 4 teams, this does not jeopardize the Buckeyes’ Playoff chances. As long as Ohio State continues to mop the floor with its opponents like it has for the first 3 weeks of the season, it shouldn’t have a problem cracking the top 4.
Not that it particularly matters in the end, but it was Maryland that experienced an outbreak, with reportedly 8 players testing positive. Ohio State can’t be penalized for something entirely out of its control.
Besides, Ohio State is far from alone in getting games canceled. The SEC, for example, lost Auburn-Mississippi State, Texas A&M-Tennessee and Alabama-LSU — the 3rd time in 4 weeks that the conference will have 4 or fewer conference games. Alabama may not be able to make that game up because LSU already needs to make up a game with Florida. Should Alabama be punished because of that? Of course not.
The college football landscape is such that there are really only a handful of teams still seriously in the hunt for the CFP.
Ohio State, Alabama, Clemson and Notre Dame are probably in everyone’s top 4 right now, plus Texas A&M, Florida and maybe Cincinnati. If Ohio State is an 8-0 B1G champ instead of 9-0, I don’t think it will make a difference. If the Buckeyes get a few more games canceled, then maybe that warrants more skepticism of their résumé. But when Ohio State has the built-in credibility, arguably the Heisman front-runner and the results to back it up, it’s going to take a lot more than 1 canceled game to change that.
That said, this would’ve been a valuable game for Ohio State to play because, well, Maryland is surprisingly good. This game seemed like a throwaway when the schedule came out, but Maryland has more wins (2) than Ohio State’s first 3 opponents — Nebraska, Penn State and Rutgers — have combined (1). If the Terrapins keep on winning, this could’ve been a quality victory for the Buckeyes. With how much Michigan is struggling and the fact that Ohio State’s other crossover is the worst team in the Big Ten (Illinois), all that’s left as a quality win at this point is probably Indiana.
While it’s nothing to be alarmed about yet, there are a few concerns in Columbus about Ohio State’s defense. Was allowing 373 yards to Rutgers — more than 100 yards over the Scarlet Knights’ season average — a sign that the defense is not championship-caliber? Or was it because Ohio State was up 35-3 at halftime and Rutgers executed several nifty trick plays that caught Ohio State off guard?
The game against Maryland’s surprisingly potent offense would’ve provided a little clarity. No B1G offense has been more explosive than the Terrapins over the last 2 weeks, as it has racked up 1,080 yards on 8.5 yards per play — and that’s despite sitting on the ball for the entire second half last week at Penn State due to having a big lead. Plus, remember what happened last time Ohio State went to Maryland? The Buckeyes escaped with a 52-51 win. Going up against a young, exciting duo like Taulia Tagovailoa and Rakim Jarrett would’ve been a fun test for the Buckeyes.
That’s the biggest disappointment in all of this if you’re an Ohio State fan.
In this already-shortened season, how many more chances will the Buckeyes have to fine-tune this defense before having to stop Clemson and/or Alabama? Tagovailoa isn’t Trevor Lawrence, but he’s probably a lot closer than most, if not all, of the QBs left on Ohio State’s schedule. Practicing against Justin Fields every day helps, obviously, but there’s an undeniable difference between practice and a game. A relatively inexperienced defense needs a chance to develop.
Now, Ohio State gets an extra week to prepare for its showdown with No. 10 Indiana, a game that will likely determine the Big Ten East. That contest a week from Saturday will have a far greater bearing on Ohio State’s CFP hopes than a canceled game at Maryland.