Sunday was the fateful day for a handful of college football programs that displayed just how good they are to the nation throughout the course of this season. With three of the top four teams (Alabama, Oregon, and Florida State) having all but a lock for a playoff spot in the inaugural College Football Playoff, the conversation gets interesting once the question of who gets to be number four begins. And let the sparks begin to fly!
TCU knew they had to win impressively to close out the regular season, and they did just that against the lowly Iowa State Cyclones after a slow start. Unfortunately, a 55-3 smashing was not good enough to save the Horned Frogs. Much like Florida State throughout the season, they got bumped without messing up.
But instead of Baylor, as some thought, the playoff committee of 12 decided to go with the Ohio State Buckeyes. Behind third-string quarterback Cardale Jones, the Buckeyes blanked the 13th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers 59-0 as if nothing had happened in the previous week. After losing J.T. Barrett to a disappointing leg injury against the rival Michigan Wolverines, many thought all hope was lost for Ohio State’s playoff chances.
But they couldn’t be more wrong.
Here are three major reasons that the committee made the right call picking Ohio State over TCU and Baylor for the final spot in the inaugural College Football Playoff:
1. BLANK CHECK
While TCU did play extremely well on Saturday, they did so against an overwhelmingly weak opponent. Playing the 2-9 Iowa State Cyclones, who couldn’t have been worse performers on the field, the Horned Frogs hit some huge road bumps in the first half. Even with a 17-3 halftime lead, the defensive performance of TCU must have had everyone who’s a fan of the purple and black on the edge of their seat because even that score was too close to have with the Cyclones.
That was with their starters playing.
With third-string QB Cardale Jones thrown into the fire, the Buckeyes routed a nationally ranked team 59-0. ZERO. NADA. ZILCH. The Wisconsin Badgers scored NO points, and a third-string QB helped his team to a 59 spot.
That’s something that’s good enough to sneak you in to the College Football Playoff, and definitely trumps any argument TCU would have at this point.
2. EVERYBODY LOVES AN UNDERDOG
With teams like Alabama, Oregon, and Florida State leading the pack in the rankings, and with each of them having their own Cinderella story that they’re trying to close out with a happily-ever-after moment, Ohio State is the clear underdog out of the final four. Running off of energy from a third-string quarterback is going to be a stretch for the Buckeyes, but thanks to the grace of the committee it was decided that a miracle was worth a shot.
Realistically, if TCU or Baylor had been given the fourth spot and had to go up against Alabama in the top-versus-bottom game it would have been a slaughter. Both TCU and Baylor haven’t had to play too rigorous of a schedule, and as a result of that there are a plethora of points in their favor on their stat sheet — but don’t buy the fool’s gold.
We saw a situation like this unfold in the NFL just last season with the Kansas City Chiefs. Kansas City was able to get off to an incredibly hot start, winning their first nine games out of 16 throughout the season, but the Chiefs found a way to lose four of their last seven — including a three-game losing streak coming off their bye week in Week 10.
That Kansas City team went on to have a huge lead in their wild-card game against the Indianapolis Colts (we’re talking 20+ points) and they still found a way to lose by a score of 45-44. TCU and Baylor would have had a similar fate if they had made the playoffs. Because of this, and the sheer fact that the Buckeyes had a much stronger performance, the committee made the right call.
3. URBAN MEYER NEEDED REDEMPTION
Scandal hit the Ohio State campus in 2011 right when Urban Meyer was coming on to the scene. Eight Buckeyes took a total of $14,000 in a mix of cash and tattoos — and former coach Jim Tressel knew about it. Event though Urban Meyer had no idea of the scandal, so we’re told, he had to deal with the consequences. The NCAA hit the Buckeyes with a bowl ban in 2012, and ever since then the program has been slowly crawling back to glory.
And now the stage is set for just that to happen.
Urban Meyer is no stranger to stress. The two-time BCS national champion while at Florida knows how to win football games — and in the playoff, that’s all that matters. From here on out, it doesn’t matter if your wins are pretty; so long as you win, you survive.
And to the death they shall fight. Let the games begin!