The Buckeyes just took one giant step closer to making the College Football Playoff without even lifting a foot.
Ohio State entered this weekend ranked No. 5 in the latest CFP rankings behind No. 1 Georgia, No. 2 Michigan, No. 3 TCU, and No. 4 USC. However, the Trojans fell 47-24 in the Pac 12 Championship Game Friday night, opening up a vacancy in the playoffs for the Buckeyes.
The loss made USC 11-2 on the season, and the second loss likely knocks them out of playoff contention regardless of what happens on Saturday.
Ohio State is presumably safe because they are the only 1-loss team in the nation. Georgia, Michigan, and TCU are all currently undefeated. Even if all three lose on Saturday, that might not change who actually plays in the final four.
The Bulldogs and Wolverines are in regardless, and if TCU loses they would be one of two teams with one loss. There will probably still be some clamoring for Alabama, but as long as the Horned Frogs don’t get blown out, it’s hard to image the 2-loss Crimson Tide passing them in the rankings.
TCU and Kansas State play in the Big XII Championship Game at 12:00 pm on Saturday. LSU and Georgia play in the SEC Championship Game at 4:00 pm. And Michigan and Purdue play in the Big Ten Championship Game at 8:00 pm.
At this point, the likeliest scenario has Ohio State and Georgia playing in the Peach Bowl in Atlanta and Michigan and TCU playing in the Fiesta Bowl in Phoenix.
There is the possibility that Ohio State and Michigan could face off in a semifinal rematch, however. If TCU loses and struggles in the loss, the Buckeyes may jump them and move to No. 3 and then play No. 2 Michigan in the Fiesta Bowl.
Or Georgia may struggle or lose while Michigan dominates their game, thereby moving the Wolverines ahead of the Bulldogs to No. 1. If TCU wins on Saturday, then Ohio State would be No. 4 and then play No. 1 Michigan in the first round.
Even though the four teams are almost locked in after Friday night’s action, there are still plenty of possibilities for how those four will ultimately shake out.
The final College Football Playoff (CFP) Selection Committee rankings of the 2022 season will be announced live on ESPN on Sunday, December 4, beginning at 12:15 p.m. ET / 11:15 a.m. CT with the pairings for the Playoff Semifinals.