Ohio State’s stunning loss to Penn State changed everything … er, actually, nothing.
Whereas in the BCS era the Buckeyes’ upset defeat in Happy Valley might’ve ended their national title quest, in the playoff era the loss constitutes more or less a free pass. In fact, Ohio State still controls its own fate – if it wins out, including the regular-season finale against Michigan, it’ll be in the four-team playoff.
Is this a good thing? Doesn’t it devalue the regular season that college football treasures so much? The answers are no, and no.
The requirement of a college football team needing to run the table to win the national championship has always been absurd. And that unreasonably high demand has over the years caused teams to water down their nonconference schedule in an attempt to maximize their chances of playing for the national title.
It’s a good thing that a single loss shouldn’t necessarily torpedo a team’s entire season, even though it still could (see Ohio State, 2015). In the first two College Football Playoff seasons, the respective champions each suffered a September loss but made the playoff anyway. More than half of the playoff entries (six of eight) in the first two CFP seasons made the field despite having a loss.
While Ohio State’s loss isn’t such bad news for the Buckeyes, it’s far from ideal for the Big Ten. The conference suddenly finds itself in the unthinkable position of missing the playoff after talking about having TWO teams in the playoff for the past several weeks.
Consider this: If Michigan loses a game before facing Ohio State, then an Ohio State victory over Michigan hands the Big Ten East title to Penn State, which should be favored to win its remaining games. That leaves the Big Ten with a potential championship game with a pair of two-loss teams – Penn State and Wisconsin.
In that scenario, would the selection committee pick a two-loss Big Ten champ over a one-loss Ohio State? Or would it just leave out the Big Ten entirely?
Here’s another thought: Just as the Ohio State loss isn’t hurting the Buckeyes, a Michigan loss before the Ohio State game isn’t going to hurt the Wolverines as long as they can beat Ohio State. In fact, a Michigan loss before the Ohio State game would serve to eliminate the Buckeyes from the Big Ten title, as long as Penn State runs the table.
Ah, all the possibilities. Isn’t this much more fun than the BCS?
Game of the Week
Penn State 24, Ohio State 21: The Nittany Lions completed just eight passes, were outgained by more than 100 yards and looked to get run out of the stadium after trailing 21-7 entering the fourth quarter. The Buckeyes also had the ball for 37 minutes of the game, 15 more than Penn State. Yet, Ohio State repeatedly stalled offensively in the fourth quarter and a rushed field-goal attempt led to a block and Penn State’s winning score. It’s just a reminder that the only important stat in a football game is the final score on the board.
Player of the Week
Pat Mahomes II: The Texas Tech quarterback tied an NCAA record with 734 passing yards in a 66-59 loss to Oklahoma, losing a duel against former Tech QB Baker Mayfield. Mahomes threw the ball 88 times, more than what his namesake father pitched in most of his MLB outings over a 12-year span. Mahomes passed for five TDs and ran for two more with 85 rushing yards. Texas Tech and Oklahoma each gained 854 yards – their combined 1,708 yards set an NCAA record.
How embarrassing is it that when you invent a rivalry but your alleged “rival” fail to acknowledge it? That’s exactly what happened to UConn after it manufactured a trophy named “Civil ConFLiCT” for its American Athletic Conference series against Central Florida. The problem is, UCF either didn’t get the memo or shredded it. After beating the Huskies, 24-16, the visiting Knights simply left the trophy on the UConn bench unclaimed.
1 Alabama, 2. Michigan, 3. Washington, 4. Clemson, 5. Louisville, 6. Texas A&M, 7. Ohio State, 8. Wisconsin, 9. Nebraska, 10. Boise State, 11. West Virginia, 12. Baylor, 13. Western Michigan, 14. Utah, 15. Auburn.