In a game that went to two overtimes, the Ohio State Buckeyes were able to continue their College Football Playoff National Championship hopes by defeating the Michigan Wolverines, 30-27. For most of the game, the Wolverines dominated the Buckeyes on the offensive side. For Ohio State, one of the most utilized people on the team during the game was punter Cameron Johnston, as he punted six times with an average of 46 yards per punt. While these are impressive numbers, Ohio State would rather him punt the ball few or no times, as he did in many games throughout the season.
The inability to produce points in the first three quarters gave Ohio State a 10 point deficit. Early in the game, kicker Tyler Durbin missed a 37-yard field goal, which elicited shock from the Buckeye-heavy crowd in Columbus, Ohio. What made matters worse is that Durbin had an opportunity to put Ohio State in the driver’s seat in the fourth quarter, but his nerves in such a big game caused him to miss an otherwise shoo-in 20-yard field goal attempt.
Thankfully, the defense was able to save the hopes of the Buckeyes winning a national championship. Junior linebacker Raekwon McMillan had an incredibly impressive 16 tackles, sophomore safety Malik Hooker had seven tackles and an interception that was returned for a touchdown, and sophomore linebacker Jerome Baker had 15 tackles and an interception which led to a 22-yard run.
Interestingly, Tyler Durbin — after missing two costly field goals — managed to successfully kick a 23-yard field goal to take the game to overtime.
In the second overtime, Urban Meyer, facing a fourth and one, decided to risk the season and boldly call for Ohio State to go for it, aiming for the touchdown and the win. In what ended up being a controversial moment, quarterback J.T. Barrett ran the ball for the first down. However, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh did not agree.
Per CBS Detroit, Harbaugh commented on the fourth down conversion.
“That was not a first down. I’m bitterly disappointed with the officiating today.”
Despite this, SB Nation tweeted a slower version of the play, which does show that Barrett made it to the first down marker.
Ohio State Football further emphasized the point on Twitter.
With the win over their rivals, the Buckeyes have now defeated Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Michigan: all of these teams were ranked in the top 10 during the head-to-head contests. According to the College Football Playoff Selection Committee Protocol, selecting the top four teams in the nation is an art, not a science, which implies that conference championship does not equal an absolute bid.
Moreover, key factors such as head-to-head and strength of schedule are only relevant when two teams have similar resumes.
“Strength of schedule, head-to-head competition and championships won must be specifically applied as tie-breakers between teams that look similar.”
So, where does this leave Ohio State? Especially, since Penn State was able to defeat Michigan State and represent the Big Ten East in the conference championship.
Simply put: if Penn State defeats Wisconsin to win the Big Ten Championship, there is a likely possibility that there will be two teams of the same conference in the top four.
Nicole Auerbach of USA Today agrees.
“I think a way around this very messy debate — I mean, why play the games if you’re just going to put Ohio State in above a team that beat them anyway?! — is to simply include both teams. I would not be shocked at all if the Big Ten gets two teams in, and this is one of the scenarios it could happen.”
To break it down even further, here is how the playoff picture would look.
- Ohio State
- Washington or Penn State
With Penn State arguing that they won the Big Ten Championship, the committee must determine whether they bring a stronger resume than Washington. If they win the vote, they will be the final team in the list of four.
If both Ohio State and Penn State win their playoff games, this sets up a bizarre rematch between Ohio State and Penn State. This time, it will be for the National Championship.
[Featured Image By Jay LaPrete/AP Images]