Years ago, when it was officially announced that the BCS would finally be going extinct, college football fans everywhere rejoiced. When the news of a playoff system finally being put into fruition was announced, fans were even more gleeful than before. But, when news of the playoff being just four teams wide was announced, a lot of those playoff advocates became weary, as nightmares of a potential BCS-esque disaster began to loom once again.
That’s why some folks were hoping at least some of the top six teams playing yesterday would fall. Alabama winning was no problem, since they are viewed as the top team, and have been the most successful team in the FBS for the past decade, alongside the Oregon Ducks, who clinched their spot the night before. Sure, TCU was one of the teams in the remaining logjam, but a win over hapless Ohio State was expected. Perhaps the 55-3 result was a bit surprising, but the blowout victory itself was not.
The big deal for the committee was last night, when defending champion Florida State, as well as Baylor and Ohio State were all vying for wins to stay afloat in the playoff race. Florida State was playing a game Georgia Tech Team, capable of scoring points and taking up clock. So, a loss for them would not be shocking. Neither would a loss for Baylor or Ohio State, who were each playing highly ranked teams more than capable of pulling off upsets.
However, none of those came into fruition. Florida State was tested in yet another game, but a crucial Georgia Tech turnover allowed the defending champs to escape with a 37-35 victory. Baylor won a 38-27 battle against the ninth-ranked Kansas State Wildcats, but they were up by double digits for the majority of the game.
The latter game really put the committee into a bind, because now, it would have to pick either #3 TCU or #6 Baylor for the final spot. The rankings would clearly give TCU the edge, except for one thing-Baylor beat them this season. In one of the most thrilling games of the season, the Bears overcame a 51-37 fourth quarter deficit to win 61-58 at the buzzer. Granted, the win came in Waco, and a loss for any team against Baylor is much more respectable than the 7-5 West Virginia squad that beat the Bears by double digits, but the head-to-head still favors Baylor.
Clearly, the Playoff Committee was in a bind. that is, until Ohio State gave them an out. Facing a high-powered #13 ranked Wisconsin squad led by star running back Melvin Gordon, the Buckeyes were a plum upset pick in the Big Ten Championship game. They were playing without second-string quarterback J.T. Barrett, who turned in a Heisman Trophy caliper season in place of injured starter Braxton Miller. Third-Stringer Cardell Jones was going to be at the helm, and the game was sure to be either close or a loss for Ohio State, right?
Apparently not. The Ohio State Buckeyes simply demolished the Wisconsin Badgers. Sophomore running back Ezekiel Elliott continued his quietly great season with 220 rushing yards, freshman Curtis Samuel scored twice, perennial deep threat Devon Smith caught three deep touchdowns, Jones threw for five touchdowns, and the defense limited Gordon to just 76 yards on 26 carries, en rout to a dominant 59-0 shutout victory.
The game was a blowout like TCU’s was, but it came against a highly ranked opponent, like Baylor’s. It was essentially the best of both worlds for Ohio State last night. And now, the Playoff Committee has an out.
Now, the committee can give Ohio State the final spot in the playoff, ridding itself of the “Texas Two-Step” mess. No longer does the “head-to-head” argument need to matter, and neither does the logjam. Baylor won a coasting game against a ranked team, TCU blew out a horrible team, and Ohio State blew out a ranked team. Both Baylor and TCU lay claim to the Big 12 Championship, while Ohio State is the clear cut frontrunner for the Big Ten. They have proven that regardless of who the quarterback for them is, they will be pretty damn good.
Ohio State’s running game has been great all year, amassing nearly 3,400 yards in 13 games, good for the eleventh best rushing attack in the FBS. Ezekiel Elliott has run for over 1,600 yards on his own, and Curtis Samuel is the other running back who averages over six yards per carry. Devon Smith is a prime deep threat, and the defense has only allowed 30 points on one occasion all season long. Urban Meyer is a coach that has won championships, and unlike TCU and Baylor, Ohio State has a winning tradition that spans several decades.
In the end, the playoff committee does not need to fret any longer. While I am a Texan, and I would love to see either TCU or Baylor make it, I am not stupid. As stated above, Ohio State boasts a resume that is right on par with that of TCU and Baylor. Plus, this gives the committee a chance to save their butts. If they want to avoid controversy, this is the best way to go. And if they want to avoid risking a tough scenario in the future, perhaps a playoff expansion, probably to eight teams, would be the best way to go.