I love a healthy dose of recency bias, especially when you parlay it with a pinch of panic and a just a hint of woe is me.
With only four, completed football games under their belt, Ohio State Buckeyes fans are currently in full-on panic mode for fear their school might miss college football’s final four.
I’m here to ease their minds.
Like it or not, THE Ohio State University is a program that year after year spits out national championship contenders… if not national champions. They are the chalk of the walk. It’s simply what they do. A college football playoff without Ohio State is like Thanksgiving dinner without stuffing. While it may not seem like it now, deservedly so or not, Ohio State will be in your final four.
Within the next three weekends, we are about to find out just how important money is when it comes to handling the COVID scare. We are in the home stretch, college football fans. The playoffs are in our sights. What’s a little pandemic among friends?
You should not be in any way appalled to hear that a) Ohio State will find a way to play its remaining two games required to qualify for the playoff and b) the selection committee will do anything possible to make sure Ohio State is in the mix. It’s like the PGA Tour fudging the Friday cut line to make sure a three-over-par Tiger Woods plays on the weekend. Ratings, my dear Watson.
To be clear, I don’t fault Ohio State one bit for doing whatever it takes to be in the championship. It means a huge influx of both money and recruits in both the short and long term. I bet you’d find very few Buckeye fans in any way opposed to their team carrying on with these games.
Nor do I think this year’s team is undeserving. Despite having the minimum required pieces of flair, Ohio State is still probably one of the four best teams in the nation and that is how the committee is supposed to judge who gets in.
As it stands right now, the team has only recently resumed football activities, without their head coach who tested positive for the virus. But, so what? Alabama’s Nick Saban caught COVID twice and they’re essentially a shoo-in. They’ve also played more games. The problem is that Ohio State not only cancelled their game against Illinois but also canceled their earlier season match-up against Maryland. Throw that in with the Big Ten starting the season after everyone else and you have the Buckeyes on the verge of not having a qualified enough resume.
They have two games left on their slate, Saturday at Michigan State and their annual hate-fest against “that team from up north.” Both of those outings should be walks in the park for the talent the likes of Ohio State. There are even rumors about TTUN cancelling the game to sabotage Ohio State’s efforts to make the playoffs but it’s likely the conference would step in to intercede. Surely the conference wants to be properly represented by its biggest cash cow. Besides, what’s one last swift kick in the rear to Jim Harbaugh as he’s shipped out of Ann Arbor.
Despite some clamoring from schools ranked fifth or lower, Ohio State’s 4-0 record is, for now, good enough to place them fourth in the college football rankings, ahead of one-loss Texas A&M, Florida and an undefeated Cincinnati. Aside from perhaps Florida, none of those teams strike fear into the hearts of Ohio State. They know all they need is to get in, which they should… and probably will.
Think I’m off base here? You Buckeye fans still worried? Thinking there might be some value in an Ohio State futures wager, I recently looked up national championship odds. If Ohio State were legitimately going to miss the playoffs, Las Vegas would not currently have them at 5:1 to win it all, behind only Alabama and Clemson. Meet the new bosses. They’re the same as the old ones.
The worst-case scenario for Buckeye fans, assuming they find a way to play, and win, both of their remaining games (which, again, they should… and probably will) is Florida meeting, and then beating, Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. Conceivably, the committee could still decide to give a one-loss Alabama team the nod over a barely warmed-up Ohio State team.
There’s also the matter of Notre Dame playing Clemson again, this time with a healthy Trevor Lawrence behind center for Clemson. Buckeye alum will become the biggest Fighting Irish fans ever for another win over Clemson almost assuredly knocks the Tigers out of the tournament. Conceivably, Notre Dame playing Clemson close could keep them in and Ohio State out but the odds of that happening are pretty slim.
No two-loss team will get a nod over a 6-0 or 7-0 Ohio State Buckeye team. A win in the Big Ten Championship game, especially a blowout victory over Northwestern, who many once mistook for being good, will just bolster their resume.
In other words, a lot would have to happen to keep Ohio State out of this thing. They’re as good as in, as they are pretty much every football season. Plus, they’ll be healthy, having played fewer games than the rest of their opponents.
So, rest easy, Buckeye fans. As usual, you’ve got everyone right where you want them.