The cold, hard truth about why Ohio State won't make the Playoff ... and doesn't deserve to be in the conversation
Maybe you don’t remember. Maybe you weren’t paying attention. Or maybe you’re doing the UCF thing where you just make up your own set of facts.
Fortunately, I do remember. I was paying attention. And I only prefer actual, factual facts.
And I’m not even talking about all of the off-the-field accusations that have made The Ohio State University’s football-first mentality the poster child for everything that is wrong in college athletics. What former assistant coach Zach Smith is accused of doing is despicable. Urban Meyer continuing to stand silently by his man, for years, was worse.
I firmly believe and have said since news of this scandal broke during the preseason that, everything else being equal, there is no way the College Football Playoff committee would reward Meyer’s years’-long cover-up with a Playoff spot. I would like nothing more than for Committee chairman Rob Mullens to actually articulate that, to spell out in no uncertain terms that Ohio State’s moral compass is broken and the CFP doesn’t stand for such behavior. That some things are, indeed, bigger than the game.
They won’t say that, of course. Fortunately, they won’t have to. Ohio State’s play on the field gave them all the reasons they need to look elsewhere.
There are 5 teams that belong in the Playoff discussion. Ohio State is not one of them.
Alabama. Clemson. Notre Dame. Georgia and Oklahoma. One of those 5, most likely the SEC title game loser or Oklahoma will be left out when the final selections are revealed at noon Sunday Dec. 2.
One team that doesn’t deserve to be in that mix is Ohio State.
Why? The better question is: What have the Buckeyes done to merit consideration?
Do you not remember the embarrassing 29-point loss at Purdue? If the Buckeyes were to somehow sneak into this Playoff, they would have the most lopsided loss in Playoff history. Georgia holds that distinction now, thanks to its 23-point loss last year to Auburn.
More incriminating, Purdue isn’t even any good. The Boilermakers had to beat sub-.500 Indiana just to get to .500 and make a bowl.
But it’s not just that one bad performance, which anybody can have. By all means, let’s examine the Buckeyes’ body of work.
Their only nonconference victory of note came against a vastly overrated TCU team that had to win its final two regular-season games just to finish 6-6.
Ohio State beat the Horned Frogs 40-28. Care to guess which team blasted TCU by twice that margin? Oklahoma, 52-27. Both games were at TCU.
Wait, there’s more.
You can credit Ohio State for rallying to beat Penn State, or you can realize what an absolute choke job that was by the Nittany Lions’ defense, allowing 2 touchdowns and 170 yards of total offense in the final 7 minutes to lose 27-26.
I’m OK with you praising Ohio State. It was a great comeback … but please realize it came against a defense that allowed 38 points and needed a miracle just to beat Appalachian State and later allowed 42 points to Michigan.
It gets worse.
The Buckeyes trailed Nebraska at the half before rallying for a 5-point victory. That’s the same margin Troy beat the Cornhuskers by in Week 2. Nebraska finished 4-8.
The Buckeyes then needed overtime, and some good fortune, to put away a Maryland team that finished 5-7. The Buckeyes gave up 51 in the process, and won by 1. It scored the game-tying touchdown in the final minute, then survived in OT when Maryland’s 2-point conversion failed.
To recap, that’s three victories by a combined 7 points — two of those victories coming against teams that didn’t make a bowl.
Oklahoma, in comparison, has lost one game by 3 points — to Texas, which finished second in the Big 12 and will face the Sooners again in the conference championship game. The Sooners had their share of close calls too, including an overtime win, but generally have been the most unstoppable offense outside Alabama in all of college football.
What exactly am I missing here?
There’s a reason Ohio State was ranked No. 10 going into its showdown against Michigan. What it had done to that point was not impressive.
Was that win impressive? Absolutely. Was it enough to erase everything before it? Hardly.
Now we enter Championship Week. There again, Ohio State lags well behind the competition. There is no way to make up ground Saturday.
An Oklahoma victory over No. 9 Texas would be much, much more impressive than any score Ohio State could possibly run up on an 8-4 Northwestern team that lost 3 nonconference games, all at home — including to Duke and Akron. Are you kidding? Akron is 4-7. Duke just lost to Wake Forest by 52.
Stop the insanity.
For years, I’ve said, “Every game matters … except Ohio State losses. Those never count.”
Last year the Buckeyes lost two games and Kirk Herbstreit was so angry they didn’t make the Playoff that he walked off the stage.
Here we are again, back in this repeating cycle of lunacy after one impressive victory.
It didn’t take long for the PR campaign to kick in the turbo chargers after the Buckeyes mauled Michigan.
The lead image on ESPN’s homepage insisted that the CFP finally has a debate: Oklahoma or Ohio State.
No it doesn’t.
The debate is Oklahoma vs. Georgia or Alabama.
Fortunately, the committee is smart enough to recognize that.
It’s up to each member to individually decide how much stock to put into OSU’s tone deaf decisions related to the domestic abuse scandal. Again, if it were close, they would be more than justified in using that as a deciding factor.
It’s not close. Ohio State’s Playoff hopes perished at Purdue, and barring an Oklahoma loss, there isn’t anything the Buckeyes can do Saturday to change that.