As soon as the clock expired on the October 22nd loss to Penn State, Ohio State fans were being told that they now had to root for Michigan to win out until The Game so that the Buckeyes had a chance to play in the B1G Championship Game. A fanbase that has thrived on a pure hatred for Michigan and celebrated every loss by the Wolverines was now expected to hope they were 11-0 going into the November 26th game. Unlike some writers, I won’t sit here and dictate to you how to be a fan. I won’t tell you not to wear a jersey, paint your face, use the transitive property to explain why a team is better than another, or boo play calling. However, I will tell you, Ohio State fan, that YOU DON’T ROOT FOR MICHIGAN TO WIN, EVER. I’ll also tell you not tweet negative things at college kids that make mistakes in games but I digress… I’m a logical guy and I know that Michigan winning out was the best way for Ohio State to win the B1G East Division but honestly, I didn’t care. I took a great amount of joy in watching them flounder and ultimately lose to Iowa. So, now Ohio State is screwed, right? No B1G Championship Game and no College Football Playoff? Maybe. Probably. Not really. I don’t know… Let’s look at a few scenarios.
Penn State loses at Rutgers. This is the easiest scenario to plan for. No. Penn State is not losing to Rutgers. Penn State has one of the best running backs in the country in Saquon Barkley while Rutgers has the worst rushing defense in the B1G. If I’m James Franklin, I wouldn’t throw the ball more than 10 times. Hold onto the ball for 40 minutes, get 450 yards rushing, and win the game 21-0.
Penn State loses to Michigan State. This is considerably more probable than Rutgers beating Penn State. The Spartans just got their first win in seven games. They had not won a game since September 17th against Notre Dame. That is not a confidence building fact considering the team that they just beat was Rutgers. The one saving grace for this scenario is that I don’t believe MSU is anywhere near as bad as their 3-7 record. They are middle of the conference in almost every offensive and defensive B1G statistical category. On paper, they match up really well with Penn State. Maybe they will look at the trip to Happy Valley as their bowl game and play inspired football. If they are going to do that, I hope it is that game and not against Ohio State this weekend.This is the one chance at getting the Buckeyes to Indianapolis but we all know what relying on teams from that state up north gets us.
The B1G gets two teams in the playoff. My original thinking was that I should break this down dependent on which team won, Penn State or Wisconsin. The more I thought about it and looked at both the rankings and strength of schedule, I don’t think it matters. It feels like a Wisconsin win would almost ensure an 11-1 Ohio State team a ranking in the top four. Hard to allow a two-loss team in when the team that beat them and has a better record goes to some crummy New Year’s Six Bowl. It will really come down to how much value the College Football Playoff Committee puts on conference championship game winners. This requires a lot of things to happen external of the conference which requires my favorite scenario to happen.
CHAOS Although the college football season is almost over, there is really a lot of football left to play. As of today, there is one undefeated team (Sorry, Western Michigan you just don’t matter.) and six one-loss teams in position for the playoff. After those seven teams, it is just a massive quagmire of two-loss teams that only have a few standouts. Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and Penn State are the only ones with a realistic shot of getting into that final four. If chaos were to happen and there were multiple one-loss teams to lose in the last few weeks, that definitely opens the door for an 11-1 Ohio State team. Alabama losing to Auburn or in the SEC Championship Game would have almost no effect at this point. I’m rooting for CHAOS. I’ve been a big fan of CHAOS since the BCS started and I can’t help but hope for it every November.
So where does this all leave us as Ohio State fans? I honestly have no idea. I can’t imagine that the way this college football season and this year are going that it will be anything normal, boring, or predictable. My advice is this: Just ride out the rest of the season enjoying the 2016 Ohio State University Buckeyes. They’ve been frustrating at times but remember that they are young and are getting better with every rep. There are a lot of guys on this team that we won’t see in an Ohio State uniform next year. I’m not going to waste time worrying about things that are completely out of my control. I’m going to enjoy every minute of these last two regular season games and see what happens. I’m not insisting that you do the same but I would highly encourage it.