Ohio State has been through this before. Losing QB Braxton Miller was supposed to be devastating to the Buckeyes’ season. Well, aside from an early setback against a below average Virginia Tech team, the Buckeyes ran the table and realized they had two Heisman hopefuls at the same position. Freshman JT Barrett filled in so beautifully when Miller was lost to a season-ending injury that it looked as though Ohio State would still sneak into that coveted 4th and final playoff spot–and then they lost Barrett to a season-ending injury as well, a broken ankle in the 4th quarter against rival Michigan.
Urban Meyer, a top-2 coach in the country (Nick Saban being the other), will of course lobby for his team to still make the playoffs should they pull off the win over no. 13 Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship game on Saturday, but reality is, no matter what Cardale Jones does on Saturday, the committee just can’t put the Buckeyes in that top 4. Their schedule was questionable. Their loss was bad. Plenty of quarterbacks have that great first game when teams have no film to game plan with–trust me, I know all about that, I’m a Redskins fan. We thought Super Bowl again when Kirk Cousins first stepped in for RG3. On top of that, there’s too many other deserving teams–Baylor and TCU topping the list. So, Ohio State, in my opinion, has to be ruled out. The best player on their team went down at the very end of the season, they can’t be valued the same.
I remember when BYU lost Brandon Davies–their best big man and fantastic compliment to the star backcourt of Jimmer Fredette and Jackson Emery–at the end of the 2010-2011 NCAA basketball season. A season in which the Cougars were in the thick of the hunt for a no. 1 seed into the NCAA Tournament. A bad loss to New Mexico immediately followed Davies departure, but they bounced back to win three straight, including a rematch with New Mexico in the semifinals of the MWC Tournament before losing in the Championship to San Diego State, a team BYU beat twice during the regular season. At 30-4, the Cougars with Davies were a lock for at least a 2-seed. Without him, the committee made them a 3 seed. Same thing happened years earlier with Cincinnati when Kenyon Martin broke his leg just before March Madness. The same should happen here in college football with Ohio State, which eliminates them.
So who should get in? First off, these things always work themselves out. Saturday will come and go and it will be fairly obvious to us all what four teams deserve to play for the National Title. I just hope the Committee is among those seeing that clearly for all four teams. We can all agree that if Alabama, Oregon and Florida State all win, they all belong. The thing I struggle with is the TCU/Baylor issue. It’s pretty clear at this point that one of them, if not both in the event of some crazy Conference Championship games, will be in college football’s version of the Final Four. Who should it be though? The eyeball test seems to tell most TCU. Why? They look more dominant each week, played a solid Minnesota team out of conference while Baylor played Buffalo, and lost only one game to a solid, ranked opponent on the road. The problem is, Baylor was that opponent. And the Bears also only lost one game, also on the road, they also played eight common opponents with TCU, on top of the head-to-head victory, so I’ll say it, if Baylor beats Kansas State this Saturday, they deserve to be ahead of TCU. Same schedule. Same conference. Same record. Won head-to-head. Shouldn’t even be a question–which it wouldn’t be if the Big 12 would just add BYU and one other team to have 12 teams again (12 teams in the Big 12 seems like a good idea anyway) and then a conference championship game, but that’s a discussion for another day. Bottom line, winning should be rewarded and Baylor won.
Two polls today: