No Big Ten title leaves Ohio State anxious about making playoffs


COLUMBUS – And now Ohio State waits.

The Buckeyes hope they will be one of the four teams invited to the College Football Playoff.

Those teams will be announced a week from today. The question facing Ohio State is if the playoff committee will include it even though it did not qualify for the Big Ten championship game this Saturday because of losing the Big Ten East Division championship to Penn State on a head-to-head tie-breaker.

If the Buckeyes had won their division and won the championship game, they would have been a slam dunk to be invited to the playoff.

But a 24-21 loss to Penn State in game in which the Nittany Lions got the winning touchdown by returning a blocked field goal for a touchdown kept OSU out of the conference championship game.

The Buckeyes’ last hope to get to the championship game was for Michigan State to beat Penn State on Saturday night. But after trailing early, Penn State rolled to a 45-12 win, shutting down that avenue to the playoffs for OSU.

So now the speculation begins.

Ohio State ranked No. 2 behind Alabama in last week’s College Football Playoff standings.

Will the committee look at Ohio State’s wins at Oklahoma and at Wisconsin, along with its wins over Michigan and Nebraska, which was a top ten team when the two teams played, and give the Buckeyes a spot in the playoff even though they didn’t win their own division, much less the Big Ten title?

There are people who say Ohio State will definitely get in after beating Michigan 30-27 in overtime in a No. 2 against No. 3 game on Saturday. They point to OSU’s body of work and the fact that it would be a huge draw in the all-important television ratings category.

Others say to never say never because the committee can do whatever it chooses to do.

Alabama, undefeated and the defending champion, will definitely be one of the teams in the playoff. Clemson, unless it melts down, appears headed for a return trip to the playoff.

If Washington gets through the Pac-12 championship game, it would have only one loss, though its schedule does not match up with OSU’s. The winner of the Big Ten championship game between Penn State and Wisconsin, both two-loss teams, would also factor into the equation.

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer chose not to campaign for his team in his postgame press conference aft the win over Michigan.

“I don’t know,” Meyer said. “I think we’re one of the best teams in the country but I don’t know that.”

Some of his players were less reluctant to say they belonged in the playoff.

“I think we proved ourselves with our strength of schedule and how we played. It doesn’t really matter if we go to the Big Ten championship game. What we’ve done speaks for itself, I think,” defensive end Sam Hubbard said.

Center Pat Elflein said he would have preferred to play in the Big Ten championship but still thinks OSU should be a playoff team.

“How can you keep us out with our wins on the road against top tier teams?” he said.

Defensive lineman Jalyn Holmes said, “How many top five teams did we beat? It’s up to the committee and whatever happens happens. But whatever game I’m in Jalyn Holmes is going to play hard.”

The answer to Ohio State’s questions will come next Sunday afternoon.

By Jim Naveau

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Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau.

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