Why Ohio State grabbed the 4th College Football Playoff Spot

ohio-state-college-football-playoffWith Alabama, Oregon and Florida State all winning their conference title games, everybody expected these three schools to make the 2014 College Football Playoff. But as for the fourth team….well, the selection committee was really earning its money trying to decide this one.

A week ago, it seemed pretty clear that either No. 3 TCU or No. 6 Baylor were grabbing the fourth playoff spot. Some analysts even had it further narrowed down to Baylor because they had beaten TCU by a score of 61-58 on October 11th. But then Ohio State improbably waxed No. 13 Wisconsin by a score of 59-0 and clearly showed that they were the cream of the Big Ten crop.

And as the selection committee recently determined, this was enough to put the Buckeyes in the bracket, while snubbing both 11-1 teams from the Big 12. Now the question that some are asking is why no Big 12 representative?

The only clear answer seems to be that the Big 12 couldn’t decide on a clear champion, unlike the other four major conferences. The ACC, Big Ten, SEC and Pac 10 all have conference championships to crown a decisive winner. Meanwhile, the Big 12 is the only conference that has yet to get with the times. Instead, they named TCU and Baylor co-champions, which made the selection committee’s job that much easier.

ohio-state-college-football-playoff-1“We had co-champions presented to us as a committee,” committee chair Jeff Long said. “So we evaluated (Baylor and TCU) as co-champions. That’s what we were presented with. We weren’t given an either-or. We were given co-champions, and that entered into the discussion. I can’t answer how it affected individual committee members.”

Long added that with Ohio State, they were a decisive No. 4 playoff team because they won their conference outright. He also alluded to the fact that OSU, which finished 12-1, had an extra game to make their case.

As for the Big 12, they have no immediate plans to add a conference championship game, although they’re heavily considering a tiebreaker next season to at least decide who goes to the Sugar Bowl. Regardless, that’s not going to do anything for them this year, and Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby isn’t happy about it.

“The one thing I would say that I’m disappointed about is it appears that we were penalized for not having a postseason championship game,” Bowlsby said. “If indeed that’s the case, and I think the comments were along that line at least relative to 12 games versus 13 games, I wish we would have been advised that it was likely to be something about which we would be penalized. Not that we could have done anything about it, but we at least would have been aware of it.”

Aware of the situation or not, the Big 12 won’t get a chance to see if either of their top teams could have competed in the playoff. Instead, it will be No. 1 Alabama taking on No. 4 Ohio State and No. 2 Florida State battling No. 3 Oregon.

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Can Any Big Ten Team beat Ohio State this Year?

braxton-miller-ohio-stateLast year was a perfect start to the Urban Meyer era at Ohio State.The Buckeyes went 12-0, capping their undefeated season with a 26-21 win over rival Michigan. Had it not been for a one-year ban from postseason play, they could’ve made a run at the BCS title.

Keeping all of this in mind, it’s scary for Big Ten opponents to think that OSU returns a good number of their offensive starters. This is nearly the same offensive unit that ranked 10th nationally with 242.3 rushing yards per game, and scored 37.2 PPG.

Star quarterback Braxton Miller is back after a season in which he passed for 2,039 yards and 28 TDs, and rushed for 1,271 yards and 13 TD’s. The junior will be the unquestioned leader of this offense and a major contender for the Heisman.

A couple of Miller’s favorite targets are back this year too, with Corey Brown (60 receptions, 669 yards, 3 TDs) and Devin Smith (30 rec, 618 yds, 6 TDs) leading the way. Tight ends Jeff Heuerman and Nick Vannett should also play a big role in the passing game.

carlos-hyde-running-backThe running game should once again be good too, with Carlos Hyde (970 rushing yards, 16 TD’s) anchoring the attack. But Hyde will serve a three-game suspension because of a nightclub altercation, which means Buckeye fans can expect to see plenty of Jordan Hall (5.4 YPC) and Bri’onte Dunn (5.3 YPC) in the early going.

The big question heading into this Big Ten season will be how well Ohio State can replace their defensive losses. They lost eight starters from last year’s squad, which ranked 14th nationally in rushing defense (116.1 YPG allowed). Meyer hit on this topic when he said, “Defense is where the issues are. We lost our entire front seven. I believe we recruited well.”

Junior linebacker Ryan Shazier is one key returner from this unit, and he racked up 115 tackles and three forced fumbles last year. Safety Christian Bryant and cornerback Bradley Roby are also going to play big roles for the Buckeyes’ defense this season. The latter is one of the nation’s top corners, having attained Second-Team All-America status in 2012. But like Hyde, Roby must serve a one-game suspension thanks to an off-field incident.

Despite all of the losses, OSU ranks second in the preseason pool, behind only Alabama. But this certainly doesn’t assure them of any waltz to the national title game. After all, the Big Ten boasts plenty of other strong teams besides just the Buckeyes.

james-white-wisconsinThe tough teams that Ohio State will have to contend with start in Madison, where Wisconsin is coming off back-to-back Big Ten championships. The Badgers need to replace Monte Ball, but their running game should be just as strong as ever with James White and Melvin Gordon carrying the pigskin. Plus their stout offensive line should make the transition much easier.

Northwestern should be a surprise contender since they have a very strong offense. Senior running back Venrick Mack will be all over the field for the Wildcats since he not only runs the ball, but also returns punts and kicks. QB Kain Colter should also have a strong year.

Assuming neither of these teams can knock off OSU, Michigan will be waiting for them at the end of the season. They won’t have speedster Denard Robinson leading the offense any longer. But QB Devin Gardner is hoping that he can keep the chains moving for the Wolverines when they face Ohio State.

Seeing as how the Buckeyes won half of their games last season by 7 points or less, we should be in for plenty of thrilling contests in Columbus. And if OSU can find a way to continue grinding these games out, they could be headed for a chance at the 2013 BCS Championship.

College Football Power Rankings for Oct 24th, 2012

Right now the BCS Rankings are a jumbled mess where a half dozen legitimate title contenders are still undefeated. And there are plenty of other undefeated teams sprinkled throughout the AP Top 25. Of course, chances are that many of these powerhouses will fall by the wayside as we head towards season’s end, but it certainly doesn’t make our job with the power rankings any easier. We’ll give it a try anyways by offering you our take on the top teams.

Also, you can check out the real BCS Rankings below:

1. Alabama
2. Florida
3. Kansas State
4. Oregon
5. Notre Dame
6. LSU
7. Oregon State
8. Oklahoma
9. USC
10. Georgia

Week 9 College Football Power Rankings

1. Alabama (7-0) – No surprise here since the Crimson Tide have garnered 59 of a possible 60 first place votes in the AP poll and are atop the NCAA’s toughest football conference. Plus it’s difficult to overlook Alabama’s impressive 32.7-point margin of victory. However, they’ve still yet to face the most difficult part of their schedule – Mississippi State, LSU and Texas A&M – which combine for a 19-3 record. But even these three shouldn’t stop the Tide on their path towards the BCS title game.

Last Game: 44-13 win over Tennessee
Next Game: vs. Mississippi State (7-0)

2. Oregon (7-0) – Let the annual BCS controversy begin with the Ducks since they are undefeated, yet only fourth in the BCS. However, Oregon will have plenty of chances to improve this standing with future games against USC, Stanford and Oregon State.

Last Game: 43-21 win over Arizona State
Next Game: vs. Colorado (1-6)

3. Florida (7-0) – As it stands now, the computers have Florida facing Alabama in the championship game. And so far, the Gators have done what they need to do to be deserving of this spot. But everything will be put to the test this coming week as Florida squares off against one of their rivals, 10th-ranked Georgia.

Last Game: 44-11 win over South Carolina
Next Game: vs. Georgia (6-1)

4. Kansas State (7-0) – A dominating win last week over West Virginia has moved K-State further up the polls and into serious national title contention. However, things won’t get any easier this week when 9th-ranked Texas Tech comes into town. But assuming the Wildcats can survive the test, they’ll have a clear shot at the Big 12 Championship Game with their toughest games out of the way.

Last Game: 55-14 win over West Virginia
Next Game: vs. Texas Tech

5. Notre Dame (7-0) – Off to their best start in years, Notre Dame has played some excellent football this season. But there are still challenges ahead including a huge road game this week against 6th-ranked Oklahoma. The contest may all come down to how well the Irish’s defensive backs can cover Oklahoma’s speedy receivers.

Last Game: 17-14 win over BYU
Next Game: at Oklahoma (5-1)

6. Oregon State (6-0) – The argument against Oregon State being ranked higher is that they haven’t played anybody significant. However, the Beavers do own victories over some tough teams in Wisconsin and UCLA. Perhaps we will truly see what Oregon State is made of when they face the Ducks later on.

Last Game: 21-7 win over Utah
Next Game: at Washington (3-4)

7. Oklahoma (5-1) – The lone blemish on the Sooners schedule is a close 24-19 loss to Kansas State. Unfortunately in a year where so many teams are unbeaten, this tough loss puts Oklahoma a ways back in the BCS race. But they can jump back into the hunt if they can beat undefeated Notre Dame this Saturday.

Last Game: 52-7 win over Kansas
Next Game: vs. Notre Dame (7-0)

8. LSU (7-1) – Much like Oklahoma, LSU is the victim of an early season loss to a very good team in Florida. But the Tigers have stayed strong and are hoping to climb the BCS ladder. They face the ultimate test against number one-ranked Alabama in a couple of weeks. The Crimson Tide are beating teams by almost 33 points, but at least the Tigers are at home.

Last Game: 24-19 win over Texas A&M
Next Game:  vs. Alabama (Nov. 3rd)

9. Texas Tech (6-1) – The Big 12 is filled with roadblocks, and the Red Raiders hit one of them head-on against Oklahoma (41-20 loss). However, quarterback Seth Doege has been hot in recent wins over West Virginia and TCU. He will no doubt have to stay on fire since Texas Tech has the unenviable task of traveling to Manhattan, Kansas this Saturday.

Last Game: 56-53 (OT) win over TCU
Next Game: at Kansas State (7-0)

10. Ohio State (8-0) – OSU’s overtime win against Purdue wasn’t pretty since it was filled with sloppy mistakes. However, the Buckeyes pulled out the victory and remain unbeaten. Ohio State will have to be much sharper if they want to grab a win in Happy Valley against QB Matt McGloin and the Nittany Lions.

Last Game: 29-22 (OT) win over Purdue
Next Game: at Penn State (5-2)