COLUMBUS, Ohio (BVM) – Ohio State’s 2022 season was shaping up to be a historic one after an undefeated start set up a far too familiar matchup against That Team Up North. With one of the top offenses in college football, the Buckeyes piled up a resume of dominant performances over the likes of Notre Dame and Penn State throughout the first 11 weeks of the season, hoping that this year, they could rewrite last year’s narrative.
Positive momentum and a Heisman candidate at quarterback were supposed to help the Buckeyes end this year’s rivalry week with a differing result, until it didn’t.
Things unraveled for Ohio State Saturday as Michigan ran wild in the second half, outscoring the Buckeyes 28-3. A final score of 45-23 underscores a myriad of issues created for the program, but the loss all but complicates the Buckeyes’ road to a College Football Playoff berth.
Now likely sitting outside the top four, the Buckeyes have lost control of determining their own destiny as they watch conference championship week back at home.
The AP Top 25 looks a little different this week 👀 🔥
What do you think of this week's rankings? pic.twitter.com/37CSQS0mU3
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) November 27, 2022
With only one loss on their resume, the Buckeyes may need some luck over the weekend, but here’s how things could fall in their favor.
The Buckeyes could use some help
As Georgia and Michigan sit atop the rankings, the two teams have all but locked in a return back to the College Football Playoff, regardless of how their matchups transpire in the SEC Championship against LSU and Big Ten Championship against Purdue. With all eyes focused on TCU and USC, the current AP No. 3 and No. 4 teams represent the Buckeyes’ best chance of sneaking back in contention.
The undefeated Horned Frogs are just one win away from topping off an incredible 2022 campaign with current wins over Texas, Kansas, and Oklahoma State. A rematch against Kansas State in the Big 12 Championship likely stands as the only thing in between them and a playoff slot.
Like TCU, USC has gone on to outshine its conference opponents as they recently put a bow on the 2022 season with a primetime win over Notre Dame. With their lone loss coming against Utah back in Week 7, USC has the chance at delivering payback with a win over the Utes and an all-but-likely slot in the top four.
A win for Utah or Kansas State would greatly favor Ohio State, who ESPN projects with an 88% chance of making the CFP.
Things are about to get interesting after a wild Rivalry Week 👀 pic.twitter.com/yyjT5PQvme
— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) November 27, 2022
Are the Buckeyes first in line of teams outside the top four?
The Buckeyes’ lone competitor if one of the top four teams were to slip up over the upcoming week has to be Alabama. It wouldn’t be a typical college football season if the Crimson Tide weren’t a part of the discussion at the end of the year, but two-losses has them in a tough spot. The committee may see an argument for Nick Saban’s squad with both of the team’s losses coming on deciding final plays, unlike the blowout loss that Ohio State just sustained. Alabama’s loss to LSU took a hit over the weekend, however, after the Tigers were taken down by Texas A&M. Putting a two-loss Alabama team over a one-loss Ohio State team may be an interesting conversation for the committee to have.
A loss by either TCU or USC this upcoming week would more than just crack the door open for the Buckeyes. If the Horned Frogs’ lone loss this season was to come at the hands of Kansas State, comparing one-loss schedules would certainly favor Ohio State. Likewise, a two-loss USC team would have a hard time arguing with the Buckeyes’ sole loss coming at the hands of Michigan, especially when both teams have outclassed Notre Dame this season. Alabama has an argument as next in, but at two losses, Ohio State seemingly has the upper hand when it comes to being first in line at replacing a top four team.
None of the aforementioned scenarios matter if the current No. 3 and No. 4 teams take care of their business, but Ohio State will certainly stay locked in to this week’s matchups.