The College Football Playoff committee has presented the final rankings with the Ohio State football team ranked second behind the LSU Tigers.
The Buckeyes capped off their season in the Big Ten by coming back to beat the Wisconsin Badgers after a slow start for the Ohio State football program. It wasn’t smooth sailing by any means for the Buckeyes in this rematch as they found themselves down 14 points at halftime. The top ranked Buckeyes nearly stumbled in their final and most important game in the eyes of the selection committee for the College Football Playoff.
Conference championship game results have always been one of the main points of emphasis for the committee when evaluating playoff teams. Not only does a team have to win their conference championship, they have to win it indisputably as well. A great example of this was when the Buckeyes demolished the Badgers 59-0 in the 2014 Big Ten Championship game which gave them a leg up over some teams that were ranked higher than them.
Two other instances of the score of a conference championship game being a factor in the committee’s decision would be Penn State being left out in 2016 and the Buckeyes being left out in 2017. Penn State was left out in 2016 in favor of the Buckeyes because they only won the championship by seven points. The Buckeyes were left out in 2017 because they only beat the Badgers by six points. Neither of those wins were impressive enough to convince the committee that those teams were objectively better than their counterparts.
Fortunately for the Buckeyes, they finished their regular season strong and did not need to blow out the Badgers in this one in order to prove their worth to the committee. The Buckeyes only needed to win the game to justify their worth. However, just a win was not enough to maintain their spot at number one. The second ranked LSU Tigers plastered the Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC Championship in a game where they never trailed.
The Tigers jumped out to a 14-point lead and never looked back en route to a 27-point blowout in a game that was played in Georgia. Turnovers, or a slow start, wasn’t an issue for the Tigers as they made Georgia look like they didn’t belong on the same field. This was quite the opposite of what the Buckeyes looked like in the first half.
The Buckeyes finally began looking like themselves in the second half after coming out and scoring immediately. They continued pulling away as the Buckeyes were able to play their typical style once they got the lead.
A difference that will be overlooked between the SEC and Big Ten Championship games is that the Buckeyes had to play their highly ranked opponent for the second time in the same season. Beating a program like that twice, let alone by nearly two scores the second time, is not easy.
The better resume to complete the season may favor the Buckeyes but it was clear for everybody to see that LSU looked like the better team yesterday.
With the selection show being so soon after the Tigers’ masterful win and the Buckeyes’ near blunder, it’s not incredibly surprising to see the Buckeyes fall to second. The Buckeyes will now face third ranked Clemson and LSU will face fourth ranked Oklahoma in the College Football Playoff semifinal.