How Do The Buckeyes Make The Playoffs This Time Around?

I know, I know, you don’t want to hear it.

I can hear you telling me that the Buckeyes don’t deserve the playoffs. You don’t want them there. You don’t even want to entertain the idea of the playoffs. That’s fine, but I have a job to do.

And there are actually people out there who will be wondering what needs to happen, so let’s just let them live in peace and help them out a bit.

After all, the Buckeyes needed a bunch of help last year and they got it.

Crazier things have happened.

And what actually needs to happen this time around isn’t all that crazy.

But a warning for some of you, there will be no doom and gloom from here on out. We’re just going to deal in what is possible.

Step One: Step one actually happened on Saturday when Kentucky gave Louisville a second loss. Louisville is one-half of the ACC Championship Game, but with two losses, they won’t stand in Ohio State’s way.

Step Two: No. 20 Oklahoma State (9-3, 7-2) must beat No. 7 Texas (11-1, 8-1) in the Big XII Championship Game (12:00 pm ABC, Jerry World). This step got a whole lot more difficult when Oklahoma State survived against BYU this past weekend. Had the Cougars won that game, Oklahoma would have gone to the Big XII Championship Game to face Texas. The Sooners probably would have given the Longhorns a better game, but perhaps their guard will be down this weekend against the Pokes. A win for Texas will almost certainly see them jump Ohio State because they will have both a win over Alabama and a conference championship. Oklahoma State running back Ollie Gordon leads the nation in rushing. The Longhorns have the No. 5 run defense in the nation. (Line: Texas -14.5)

Step Three: No. 1 Georgia (12-0, 8-0) must beat No. 8 Alabama (11-1, 8-0) in the SEC Championship Game (4:00 pm CBS, Atlanta). An Alabama win is going to move the Tide ahead of Ohio State in the pecking order and it won’t drop the Bulldogs below the Buckeyes. A win for Bama could lock up two spots for the SEC, but it will also create the kind of mess that would have Ohio State lost in the wash regardless. (Line: Georgia -5)

Step Four: No. 3 Michigan (12-0, 9-0) must beat No. 17 Iowa (10-2, 7-2) in the Big Ten Championship Game (8:00 pm FOX, Indianapolis). A loss for Michigan could eliminate both the Wolverines and the Buckeyes (assuming the Buckeyes aren’t already eliminated), which could create some difficult rooting interests for people. (Line: Michigan -23)

Step Five: Louisville must beat Florida State in the ACC Championship Game (8:00 pm ABC, Charlotte). Right now Florida State is hanging on and if they win this game, they will be a first-round bye for somebody. A loss for the Seminoles here eliminates them, and the committee won’t put a two-loss Louisville team in the playoffs. (Line: Florida State -3)

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Assorted Addendums

  • The Pac 12 Championship Game is Friday night and has no bearing on Ohio State. The Pac 12 is getting a team in, so that is already factored into OSU’s chances. The winner is in and the loser is eliminated. The committee does not like Washington because of ugly wins over Arizona State and Stanford (and now Washington State) — and also because of their bad defense, but if they’re undefeated, they’re in. That would also create a second loss for the Ducks, which would eliminate them. If Oregon wins, Washington will drop out of the picture faster than the first Aunt Viv.
  • Right now, the guaranteed spots belong to the Pac 12 and the SEC. Michigan is all but guaranteed to be in, so you can go ahead and put the Big Ten in as an effective guarantee because either Michigan is in or they lose and nobody from the Big Ten makes it and this exercise has become moot.
  • So, basically, if you are an Ohio State fan who wants the Buckeyes to make the playoffs, you’ll need to root for a 14.5-point underdog in the Big XII Championship Game, a 5-point favorite in the SEC Championship Game, a 23-point favorite in the Big Ten Championship Game, and a 3-point underdog in the ACC Championship Game.
  • A $10 bet on that four-leg parlay would pay out $168.
  • To put it in a more optimistic light, all Ohio State really needs is for Texas to choke, Georgia to be Georgia, Iowa to be Iowa, and Florida State to lose with their backup quarterbacks as only a 3-point favorite. This will all get very interesting or very “over with” by 4:00 pm on Saturday.
  • If the first two games happen as they need to for Ohio State, the television ratings for the ACC Championship Game will actually be good for a change, but maybe only in Ohio.

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