In equal parts explosive and sloppy, the Buckeyes jumped on the Badgers early then hung on late to win their first Big Ten Championship since 2014.
Are the Buckeyes in the playoff? Probably.
The Committee last week noted that teams ranked 5 through 8 were close in their eyes (or in committee jargon, considered ‘comparable’). Alabama’s resume did not get any better this week being idle — and the Auburn team that beat them was blown out in the SEC Championship game 28-7. The wiz kids at FiveThirtyEight give the Buckeyes a 40% chance of being selected, Alabama a 28% chance, and (largely forgotten) USC a 20% chance.
The Committee’s own selection protocol favors the Buckeyes, and even the Trojans over Bama. When two teams are comparable, and Alabama-Ohio State (and forgotten USC) surely are, the committee must consider the following criteria — championships won, strength of schedule, head-to-head, and performance against common foes. There is no head-to-head, or common foe — so those are out the window for OSU-Bama. OSU has the edge with a conference championship, and according to Jeff Sagarin, a strength of schedule ranked 28 against Alabama’s strength of schedule ranked 56. Meanwhile, the Buckeyes are 2-1 against the top 10, where Alabama is 0-1 (USC is also 0-1 against the top 10). The committee may want to put Alabama in because of the eye test (and they may, after all they had ranked them No. 1 much of the season) but if they follow their own protocol on comparable teams, the edge goes to conference championships and strength of schedule and both Ohio State (and even USC, with a strength of schedule of 16 — but less impressive top wins than Ohio State) has Alabama’s number there.
So here are your final predicted playoff rankings (which no doubt the committee will make look entirely wrong at noon today)…
No. 1 Clemson*
No. 2 Oklahoma*
No. 3 Georgia*
No. 4 Ohio State*
No. 5 USC*
No. 6. Alabama
*Denotes conference champion.
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