Ohio State CFP Hopes in Limbo After Purdue Loss

urban-meyer-fired-osuThe Ohio State Buckeyes looked like the cream of the Big Ten crop this year. But for the second straight season, they went on the road and lost big to an unranked opponent.

Last year, it was the Iowa Hawkeyes who dealt them a 55-24 loss. This season, the Purdue Boilermakers upset the No. 2 Buckeyes by a score of 49-20.

As if the score isn’t shocking enough, Purdue surprised everybody by outplaying and pushing around Ohio State. Hardly anybody saw this outcome coming. But the signs were there for anybody who saw the Buckeyes’ first six victories.

They experienced low points against Indiana, Minnesota, Penn State, and TCU. The linebacking unit has underwhelmed, and the secondary lacks a solid complement to safety Jordan Fuller.

The offense hasn’t been great either, especially with the offensive line’s lack of power making them a one-dimensional team. Quarterback Dwayne Haskins threw the ball a school record 73 times in a failing comeback attempt.

The good news for the Buckeyes’ is that they’re still mathematically alive to earn a College Football Playoff (CFP) berth. All they have to do is win out the rest of the season in order to take the Big 10 East and land in the conference championship game.

However, the real question is whether they can actually win the rest of their games – especially a home showdown against No. 5 Michigan. I’ll discuss if it’s possible for the Buckeyes to still make the CFP by looking at the Purdue game and discussing other factors.

Purdue Jumped Out on Ohio State and Exposed Them

ohio-state-2018-cfpThe Purdue Boilermakers looked like the elite team when they took the field against the Buckeyes. They outplayed OSU in the first half and went into the locker room with a 14-3 lead. Purdue was especially helped by a successful fake field goal attempt that later turned into a touchdown drive.

The second half started out with more of the same, as Ohio State roughed Purdue’s punter. Rather than having to kick the ball away, the Boilermakers turned this opportunity into another TD drive. This put them up 21-6 in the third quarter. They’d go on to dominate the game after forcing the Buckeyes into constant passing situations.

One huge problem for OSU is their lack of talent in the back seven. Purdue receiver Rondale Moore took full advantage of this by grabbing 12 balls for 173 receiving yards.

Last season’s loss to Iowa looked more like a fluke. This year’s loss to Purdue looks closer to what Ohio State really is – a strong Big 10 team that doesn’t have the raw the talent to take days off.

Again, it’s still very possible that the Buckeyes’ win out the rest of their schedule and end up in the conference championship game. From here, they’d look to beat the Big 10 West representative and earn enough respect from the committee to land a CFP spot.

They did exactly this in 2017, but their ugly loss to Iowa prevented them from getting a playoff bid. I don’t see why this season would be any different, even if they are able to rally and win the conference.

Michigan Steps in as Big Ten’s CFP Favorite

jim-harbaugh-michigan-bears-coltsOdds are that Ohio State doesn’t have a realistic chance of earning one of the four CFP slots. However, their rivals, the Michigan Wolverines, are definitely in the conversation.

Michigan, which entered this Saturday 3-8 against top 15 teams during the Jim Harbaugh era, exercised some demons with a 21-7 victory over Michigan State.

The Wolverines were previously 1-6 in rivalry games against Michigan State, Ohio State, and Notre Dame. It also wasn’t good that the No. 24 Spartans had won eight of the last 10 meetings between the two teams.

But Harbaugh’s squad battled cold, rainy conditions to pull out a convincing victory against their instate rivals. Furthermore, the win makes Michigan look like the best team in the conference. Assuming they played Ohio State next week, they’d likely be a 7-10 point favorite.

Their defense was absolutely suffocating, holding the Spartans to 94 total yards. They also forced Michigan State to fail on all 12 of their third down conversion attempts.

QB Brian Lewerke felt the full brunt of Michigan’s defense as he produced a terrible 5-for-25 passing line – the lowest completion percentage by a Big 10 quarterback in the last 20 years. These five completions only amounted to 66 yards.

Harbaugh’s four-year tenure has been marked by winning games against schools they’re supposed to, only to be dominated by upper tier teams. However, this victory could be the one that catapults Michigan from a good Big 10 team to the conference’s dominant school.

They now have the best chance to make the CFP since losing a double overtime game in Columbus two seasons ago. They may have lost to Notre Dame to open the year, but they’re fully control their destiny and still have a chance to both win the conference and grab a playoff spot.