The Ohio State Buckeyes are undefeated and are currently ranked number four in the College Football Playoff rankings. After beating Indiana two weeks ago their remaining schedule shouldn’t be much cause for concern, but with the Illinois game canceled last week, the Buckeyes are in an interesting predicament. They must play their final two games to qualify for the Big Ten Championship game and even if they get to 7-0 they could potentially be left out of the playoff. The other playoff contenders could all potentially have played 10 games and a one loss SEC or ACC team could make it a difficult decision for the playoff committee. Throw in an uneven performance against Indiana and no other marquee wins it is very possible Ohio State won’t be playing in the playoff. Here are three reasons why Buckeyes fans should be fine with missing out on the playoffs:
First: There is a pandemic and if Ohio State misses out on a playoff spot it will be easy to blame it on COVID and the Big Ten Conference’s response. The conference decided to postpone the season and then waited almost a month before deciding to come back. Fans knew that there was little wiggle room when it came to game cancellations, especially considering the Big12, SEC and ACC were going to be able to play close to a full season. No matter the outcome of the playoff, this season will have a metaphorical asterisk next to it and that makes it easier to rationalize not getting a shot at the national championship.
Second: The Indiana passing attack torched what has been a shaky Buckeye secondary for 491 yards and five touchdowns. To be fair, Michael Penix Jr. is a good quarterback, but he is no Mac Jones or Trevor Lawrence and that should scare Buckeye fans. The secondary issues have cropped up all year as they are prone to blown coverages and getting beat for big plays. Only four games into a normal 12 game season, there would be reason for optimism that they would get the issues fixed, but only having three games left that could be a tall task. Their next two opponents are Michigan State and That Team Up North and neither has much of a passing attack, so that could make it difficult to see if the secondary has corrected its issues.
Third: Big Ten Championships are nothing to sneeze at. This could be Ohio State’s fourth consecutive Big Ten Championship and second in two years of the HC Ryan Day era. Yes, Ohio State is expected to compete for national championships, but you have to rule your conference to get that opportunity and teams can only control so much. Until every power five champion gets an automatic bid to the playoff, there is still too much subjectivity to the playoff selection. Think back to 2014 when Ohio State won it all, there are many TCU and Baylor fans that still feel slighted. Conference championships still mean a lot and a fourth consecutive Big Ten Title would cement the stranglehold that the Buckeyes have on Big Ten Football.
Now, this isn’t to say that if the Buckeyes do make it to the playoff fans shouldn’t be excited and hopeful. There is still the possibility the defense does figure it out and they can make a run to the national championship. Even if the secondary is still a weakness the offense can put up forty plus on any team in the country, but fans need to brace themselves for the very real possibility Ohio State gets left out of the playoff. 2020 has been a difficult year all around the world with and without the pandemic. Fans should take solace in a Big Ten Championship and appreciate the consistency it takes to win four in a row.