The jury is still out but it looks like the verdict is a foregone conclusion.
If Ohio State is not one of the four teams announced as participants in the College Football Playoff at noon Sunday, there are going to be a lot of surprised people.
Actually, more like a lot of totally shocked people.
Everything points to Ohio State, ranked No. 2 behind Alabama in this week’s College Playoff standings, being the surest thing after the Crimson Tide to get to the playoff.
Even without playing in the Big Ten championship game, OSU’s three wins over Top Ten teams and a head-to-head victory over Wisconsin appear to have impressed the playoff selection committee.
Committee chairman Kirby Hocutt said after the next-to-last rankings were announced Tuesday night, “Our mission and sole purpose is to rank the four very best teams in college football for inclusion in the playoff.”
He also said playing for a league championship “is not the distinguishing metric.”
In other words, welcome to the postseason, Ohio State, even if you’re not playing in the Big Ten championship game, even if you didn’t beat Penn State and even if Jim Harbaugh thinks it wasn’t you, it was the refs who beat his team.
The selection process might be suspenseful for Penn State, Wisconsin, Michigan and some other teams. But probably not for Ohio State. It is hard to imagine how it could drop from No. 2 to No. 5 in one week.
If No. 4 Washington (11-1) beats Colorado (10-2) in the Pac-12 championship game and No. 3 Clemson (11-1) wins the ACC championship against Virginia Tech (9-3) on Saturday, the Huskies and Tigers could join Alabama and OSU in the four-team playoff.
Penn State’s best hope is to win impressively against Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game and hope Clemson loses.
Wisconsin needs to beat Penn State and probably hope both Clemson and Washington lose. And Michigan just needs a whole lot of hope.
With big wins over Penn State and Colorado and a close win over Wisconsin, the Wolverines do have a bit of an argument for being considered even though they finished third in the Big Ten’s East Division.
One of the most interesting things in the whole drama is the apparent disregard by the College Football Playoff selection committee for the Big Ten championship game.
Expansion and money created the Big Ten championship game, which was first played in 2011.
The idea that three of the four best teams in the conference could be in the same division and that two of them would not qualify to play for a championship probably was dismissed as unlikely to happen when the Big Ten championship game was created.
But that is what has happened this year. And the College Football Playoff seems to be sending a message that it doesn’t consider conference championship games very important.
This puts the Big Ten in an awkward position. It doesn’t want to downplay a money maker like the championship game. But it also doesn’t want to see its two best teams left out of consideration for the playoff because they didn’t play in the championship game.
If chaos erupts in the weekend’s conference championship games could the Big Ten get two teams into the playoff? And which team would be the second team?
Would it be the winner of the Big Ten championship game? Or, in an act of total disdain for championship games by the committee, could it be Michigan?
Probably not. But the Wolverines have beaten three top ten teams and have wins over both teams in the Big Ten championship game.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau.