No question, that 31-16 home loss to Oklahoma on Sept. 9 was messy. Even more unfathomable was getting blown out 55-24 at Iowa.
But that was then.
If the commitee really believes its mission is to put the nation’s four best teams in the playoff, Ohio State will be among them.
Put it this way: If you hooked up Dabo Swinney to a lie detector and said, ``Who would you rather avoid—Alabama or Ohio State?’’—he would very quickly say, ``the Buckeyes!’’
And now that J.T. Barrett has Ohio State's offense hitting on all cylinders, a rematch against Oklahoma would be a very different contest.
Despite its two losses, Ohio State has the best resume. It has beaten No. 9 Penn State and No. 16 Michigan State, plus a good win at 8-4 Michigan. The 27-21 win over No. 4 Wisconsin should put it in the playoff.
Alabama? It beat No. 17 LSU and No. 23 Mississippi State. Its third best win is over No. 25 Fresno State, which is likely to fall out of the rankings. Its 26-14 loss to Auburn, which just got drilled by Georgia, was not the stuff that playoff dreams are made of.
The Buckeyes also are a conference champion, which Alabama is not.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]
While it’s true that Ohio State trumped Big Ten champion Penn State for a controversial playoff berth last year, that was a different situation. In hindsight, it might not have been the right call. Alabama’s case this year is not nearly as compelling as Ohio State’s was last year.
The other point is, while it’s fine to have two teams from one conference if that’s the obvious way to go, it is better to have a broader-based playoff when the choices are not clear-cut.
It’s a national tournament. And the case for Ohio State is stronger than the case for Alabama—or USC, for that matter.
True, the Buckeyes would be the first two-loss team in the College Football Playoff. But the four-team playoff is only in its fourth year, hardly a huge sample. And two-loss Auburn would have been a no-brainer this year if it had beaten Georgia.
If the Buckeyes do receive their playoff berth—and I believe they will—remember this ominous stat:
Urban Meyer has lost three bowl games in his 16-year career, including last year’s 31-0 blowout to Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl playoff semi-final. After the first two bowl losses, he won the national championship the next year.
It’s time to start wondering if the third time also will be a charm.
Oh, and by the way: Memo to Tennessee fans. If you don’t like the defense that Greg Schiano’s Buckeyes played against Wisconsin, good luck finding a coach who will do better than that.
The Badgers’ vaunted rushing attack managed only 60 yards. Without the gift of 10 first-half points off of turnovers, Wisconsin might have been done before the break.[/membership]