This is the beauty of the college football playoff: Everyone watched Ohio State lose to Oklahoma. The Buckeyes were pathetic offensively and JT Barrett was thoroughly outplayed by Baker Mayfield. Guess what? The loss doesn’t mean anything. Ohio State can still run the table, beat Michigan and Penn State, then win the Big Ten Championship. And chances are extremely good the Buckeyes will reach the Playoff.
[Aside: Interesting scheduling twist you knew about when we wrote it this summer – Penn State has to play vs Michigan, at Ohio State and at Michigan State in three straight weeks bridging October and November.]
The only scenario in which Ohio State wins the Big Ten and doesn’t make the playoff:
* Clemson wins the ACC and goes undefeated
* USC wins the Pac-12 and goes undefeated
* Oklahoma wins the Big 12 and goes undefeated
* Alabama wins the SEC and goes undefeated
In that scenario, Ohio State, with one loss, would obviously be shut out. But the odds on all four of those teams going unbeaten is extremely long. Each look formidable now – especially Clemson, given the season-ending injury to FSU’s star QB – but nobody gets crowned in September.
Of course, the worst part about the playoff is that it isn’t 8-teams. If that were the case, Stanford’s season wouldn’t be in peril. (Theoretically, it could still win out, hope USC suffers two losses, and then sneak into the playoff. But many dominoes would have to fall.)
That’s my major gripe about the sport – with each loss in early September and October, teams are eliminated. I prefer the NFL model – teams fighting in the regular season to reach the playoffs, when anything can happen.