By Jim Baird | AM Football Briefing
VICTORY & PLAYOFF CHAOS: While Ohio State was busy taking the Terps to the woodshed 62-3, chaos reigned in the top 4. Pitt stunned No. 2 Clemson 43-42. The Hawkeyes upended No. 3 That School Up North 14-13. And USC handled No. 4 Washington 26-13. What does the chaos mean for the Buckeyes? Let’s start with how it impacts the Big 10 East. The loss by That School Up North, creates a three-way tie atop the East with the Fightin’ Harbaughs, Penn State and OSU at 6-1 in conference. If Ohio State and Penn State each win out, the Nittany Lions would hold the head-to-head tiebreaker and go to Indianapolis. If That School Up North wins out, they would hold the tiebreaker head-to-head against Penn State and be in the championship game. Ohio State’s only shot to play for the B1G championship: win out and hope lowly Rutgers (2-8) or Michigan State (3-7) springs the upset against the red-hot Nittany Lions. That seems unlikely.
CAN OSU SKIP INDY AND GO STRAIGHT TO THE PLAYOFFS? PROBABLY: When the playoff rankings come out this week, Ohio State will be as high as No. 2. The analytic folks at FiveThirtyEight now give the Buckeyes only an 11% chance of wining the conference but a 54% chance of making the playoff. In fact, they put Ohio State as having a higher chance of winning the national championship (17%) than winning the Big 10…
BUT THE COMMITTEE HAS NEVER SELECTED A NON-CONFERENCE CHAMPION: The Playoff Committee has established several criteria to evaluate teams: strength of schedule, head-to-head competition, conference championships won, and injuries that may have affected a team’s performance. Entering its third year, all eight teams selected for the playoff have been conference champions. But that doesn’t mean it can’t happen, just that it hasn’t yet. If Ohio State runs the table, the Buckeyes will have quality wins against Oklahoma, Nebraska, Wisconsin and That School Up North. That strength of record, which ESPN ranks as the third highest in the country, should be enough to overcome not having a conference championship. Ohio State needs to keep winning and do so impressively. Doing so will send the committee a message that it’s one of the best four teams, with or without a conference championship.
HEADLINES: AP: Barrett carries No. 5 Ohio State to 62-3 rout of Maryland … Sporting News: Ohio State keeps points coming; Barrett-Samuel combo mighty tough to stop … Columbus Dispatch: Ohio State 62, Maryland 3 | Road romp … Toledo Blade: Buckeyes have no trouble, trounce Terrapins … Plain Dealer: No. 5 Ohio State football routs Maryland 62-3 in another blowout … Land-Grant Holy Land: After torching Maryland, Ohio State may not be looking ahead to the Michigan game, but everybody else is … Eleven Warriors: In Stomping of Maryland, Ohio State Scores At Least 60 Points in Back-To-Back Games For First Time Since 1996
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AROUND THE BIG: Iowa upsets No. 3 Michigan 14-13 on last-second field goal … No. 7 Wisconsin rolls to 48-3 win over Illinois … Barkley helps No. 10 Penn State beat Indiana 45-31 … Tough Tommy: Armstrong leads No. 19 Nebraska … Michigan State snaps skid with 49-0 rout of Rutgers … Northwestern scores 31 2nd-half points to beat Purdue 45-17