The results of the season are in. After several grueling months of College Football, we’ve narrowed the field down to 5. The problem? There are only 4 spots.
For Ohio State, here were the Big 10 Championship situations from best to worst:
- Wisconsin barely beat Penn State
- Penn State barely beat Wisconsin
- Wisconsin smashed Penn State
- Penn State smashed Wisconsin
The fact that it was a very close game that Wisconsin dominated for three quarters is a great sign, but not the best sign. Looking back to 2014, the only reason that I think it was clear that Ohio State could and should leapfrog Big-12 Co-Champions Baylor and TCU was that they won their conference championship game against a very good Wisconsin team 59 – 0. That’s a statement
If Penn State had blown out Wisconsin, the head to head against Ohio State could make the decision tough. Unfortunately for Penn State, they didn’t do enough.
Let me be clear, I am a fan of the Big 10. I think the conference is the best in CFB right now. I am rooting for Penn State to make the playoff over Washington, but not at the expense of Ohio State.
Here’s why Ohio State is in.
Reason #1: Ohio State has a better record than Penn State
The reason Penn State will not make it in the playoff is simply the number in the loss column. 2. If Penn State beats Pitt, there isn’t much of a debate. Both teams have the same record, Penn State has the head to head, and the historical precedent set would favor PSU. I would still argue for OSU over PSU don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think my argument would have teeth because If Penn State had beaten Pitt we would have a situation almost identical to last year, where Michigan State beat OSU head to head, the teams had the same record, and MSU won the Big 10. I still thought OSU should have a shot to defend their national title from 2014, but it was pretty cut and dried that Michigan State would be in (even though in hindsight there is no question OSU would have put up a better game against Alabama than MSU did. I’m not bitter).
Now, if Ohio State had lost their marquee non-conference game against Oklahoma, Penn State would be in without question. But they didn’t lose, and PSU did.
Reason #2: “The Game” was the defacto Big 10 Championship
The division system in the Big 10 is a problem, and this season proves why. The East was so stacked this year, the two best teams in the Big 10 by almost every metric (Ohio State and Michigan) didn’t play for the Conference Championship. I’m not saying Penn State doesn’t deserve the Conference Championship… they do. It’s just that the #2 vs #3 matchup a week before was always going to be the game that decided the Big 10. I don’t think that you can argue that if Ohio State and Michigan played Penn State 10 times, they wouldn’t win the majority of those games. This is why College football is becoming more and more like basketball, where a great team can lose its conference tournament to an inferior team and still be a 1 or 2 seed in the big dance. Like it or not, the fate of the Big 10 in the playoff was determined in Columbus on November 26th.
Reason #3: Ohio State has the 2nd best resume in the country
Now, as much as I hate Alabama, I will concede that 13-0 Alabama deserves the number 1 resume. Even in a year where the SEC is very weak top to bottom, it’s very hard to run the table. The fact is, strength of schedule matters, and it has for a looooooong time. It’s the reason the SEC dominated the late BCS era, and it’s the reason Ohio State will be the Big 10 representative to the playoff. With wins AWAY against Big 12 Champ Oklahoma, Big 10 Runner-up Wisconsin, a win at HOME against the then #3 Wolverines, and their only loss on a last second blocked field goal to Big 10 Champion Penn State, OSU has the clear edge in resume over both Penn State and Washington.
The Big 10 is gaining empathy for how the SEC felt 5 years ago. All of the great Big 10 teams this year beat each other up, and inevitably a couple will go home disappointed.
Think about this:
Ohio State’s only two losses in the last two seasons were to the two Big 10 Champions of that year, by a total of 6 points.
You can really make the case for any of the 5 teams vying for 4 spots. You could even still probably make the case for Michigan, but at the end of the day, it’s going to be:
- Ohio State
My prediction is that we will get the juicy matchup in the national championship that deep down everybody wants to see… Alabama vs. Ohio State.
Disclaimer: I’m biased. See that’s the fun thing about sports. As a fan, it’s a low stakes opportunity to be totally irrational, piss some people off, and at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter. My team is the best no matter what, your team is the worst no matter what, and that’s how it always will be. And that’s ok.