Ohio State may make the college football playoffs, but the Buckeyes’ path is narrow.
While being blown out at home to arch-rival Michigan to lose the Big Ten East won’t help in the least, Ohio State still has some chance of making the college football playoffs.
With the first window of Rivalry Week games on Saturday, six teams remain alive to make the playoffs. It was seven, but Clemson, who fell at home to South Carolina to suffer his second loss of the season, eliminated the Tigers and the ACC as well. While Ohio State can’t play for the Big Ten championship, the Buckeyes have a case this year with an 11-1 (8-1) aggregate record.
Here’s essentially what needs to happen for the Buckeyes to come in as a one-loss-at-large team.
What needs to happen for Ohio State to make the college football playoffs now?
With Georgia and Michigan still going 12-0 into their conference championship games undefeated, the Dawgs and the Wolverines are pretty much suspended at this point. Georgia would still start with a loss to LSU in Atlanta. Michigan will likely get in if the Wolverines would lose to either Purdue, Illinois or even Iowa in Indianapolis, but those three teams are far worse than LSU.
Should TCU beat Iowa State to remain unbeaten 12-0, the Horned Frogs likely find themselves in the same position as Georgia and Michigan going into the Big 12 championship game. They might be able to pull through a close loss at Arlington to Kansas State or Texas and still get in, but the Frogs won’t benefit the way Michigan and Georgia did 12-1 when in doubt.
With Clemson completely out of contention, the other two teams Ohio State has to oversee must be LSU and USC. If the Bayou Bengals beat a bad Texas A&M team in College Station and then beat Georgia in Atlanta, they get in, and so does Georgia. USC must beat Notre Dame and either Oregon or Washington in the Pac-12 championship on Saturday night for the Trojans to even get in.
For Ohio State to emerge from the Big Ten as a one-loss-at-large team, the Buckeyes must beat either Purdue, Illinois or Iowa in the Big Ten championship, Georgia to beat LSU in the SEC championship and Michigan for USC to lose one of their next two games. It helps that TCU loses one of their next two, but the Horned Frogs’ loss isn’t as significant as LSU and USC’s defeats again.
Basically, a four-team playoff involving Ohio State would have to include Georgia and Michigan. An LSU win over Georgia will likely eliminate the Buckeyes. If TCU wins the Big 12, the Horned Frogs will overtake the Buckeyes. If USC wins the Pac-12 with only the Utah loss on their resume, the Trojans will get over them. If they don’t win a Power Five championship, it will cost them.
If Ohio State makes the playoffs, so do Georgia, Michigan and either TCU or USC; but not LSU.
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