Big Ten Title Not Enough For Buckeyes To Make College Football Playoff
On Saturday night, a victorious Urban Meyer stood on a stage in the middle of Lucas Oil Stadium, making the case for the newly-crowned Big Ten champion to be one of the four teams selected for the College Football Playoff.
That message apparently fell on deaf ears.
Despite Ohio State's 24-21 victory, on Sunday, the playoff selection committee opted to use the so-called "eyeball test" and say that even though Alabama failed to win its conference and played a much weaker schedule than Ohio State, the Crimson Tide looked better doing it.
Alabama joins last year's national champion Clemson, as well Oklahoma and Georgia, in the four-team playoff.
Clemson and Alabama play in one semifinal in the Sugar Bowl on New Year's Day, and Georgia and Oklahoma play the other semifinal in the Rose Bowl. The two winners play for the national title on January 8 in Atlanta.
“Of course we all know at the end of the day what the narrative is going to be based on the identification of the those four very best teams because we’re all in this profession. This is our livelihood. We’re very familiar with it,” said selection committee chairman Kirby Hocutt said. “But does it impact our discussion in that room? And I can tell you very straight forward no.”
After being left out of the playoff, the Buckeyes quickly accepted an invitation to play the University of Southern California in the Cotton Bowl in Arlington, Texas on December 29.
Ohio State closed the regular season strong with four straight wins, including wins over rival Michigan and the previously undefeated Wisconsin Badgers. But the Buckeyes' absence from the playoff mainly stems from an embarrassing 55-24 drubbing by unranked Iowa on November 4.
Columbus Dispatch columnist Rob Oller says he was slightly surprised the selection committee went with Alabama over Ohio State, but he says he can't argue against the decision.
“In what world can anyone see Alabama give up 55 points to an unranked team?" Oller says. "I just don’t see 'Bama giving up 55 to anyone, much less an unranked team the way Ohio State did to Iowa."
This year marks the second straight season a team that did not win its conference is in the playoff. Ohio State did it last year after a regular season loss to Penn State kept the Buckeyes out of the Big Ten title game. The Buckeyes were trounced by Clemson 31-0 in a semifinal matchup.
The playoff rankings released on Sunday ranked Ohio State fifth, Wisconsin was sixth, and Auburn was seventh. Southern California finished eighth, followed by Penn State and Miami. Washington was 11th and unbeaten UCF was 12th.