Does Oklahoma have the playoff edge over Ohio State?
The Sooners stayed ahead of the Buckeyes entering conference championship weekend. Oklahoma moved up from No. 6 to No. 5 while Ohio State jumped from No. 10 to No. 6. The Buckeyes drubbed previously-No. 4 Michigan in Week 13 while Oklahoma beat then-No. 13 West Virginia.
The top three stayed the same as expected. Alabama is at No. 1 followed by Clemson and Notre Dame. Georgia is at No. 4. The Bulldogs play Alabama on Saturday in the SEC Championship Game. If Georgia loses, Oklahoma and Ohio State will be in line to assume the No. 4 position.
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Oklahoma plays No. 14 Texas on Saturday in the Big 12 Championship Game. The Longhorns gave the Sooners their only loss of the season. Ohio State has No. 21 Northwestern in the Big Ten Championship Game. Given that Oklahoma is playing a better opponent, Ohio State will likely need an Oklahoma loss or a convincing win over Northwestern and a close Oklahoma win over Texas to have a shot at jumping the Sooners on Sunday and make the playoff.
But what if Georgia wins?
If the Tide handles the Bulldogs, the No. 4 spot will ostensibly be there for the taking for Oklahoma and Ohio State. If Georgia beats Alabama, things get really interesting.
Alabama became the first team since the turn of the 20th century to beat its regular season opponents by 20 points or more. If Georgia pulls the upset it’s hard to see Alabama dropping outside the top four. Georgia would conceivably move to No. 3 and Alabama would drop to No. 4.
That would make the discussion surrounding Oklahoma and Ohio State a moot point because they both would get left out of the playoff.
Committee chairman Rob Mullens said Oklahoma stayed ahead of Ohio State because of the team’s “historic” offense. Oklahoma is averaging nearly nine yards a play in 2018 as its defense has allowed 40 or more points in each of the last four games.
Ohio State has jumped a Big 12 team before
The Buckeyes made a massive statement in 2014 to jump over TCU in the final week of the season. Ohio State entered the Big Ten Championship Game at No. 5 and beat No. 13 Wisconsin 59-0. TCU, at 10-1, beat Iowa State 55-3. The Horned Frogs dropped from No. 3 to No. 6 and Ohio State vaulted into the top four to join Alabama, Oregon and Florida State in the first playoff.
A similar situation isn’t out of the question when the final rankings are revealed on Sunday. But Ohio State may need another 59-0 win to do it.
If an Ohio State jump over Oklahoma happens (assuming a Sooners win), the committee will have some explaining to do. With Ohio State staying a handful of spots below Oklahoma for the weeks preceding Tuesday night, it’s clear the committee hasn’t been as impressed with the Buckeyes as it has been with Oklahoma. Likely because of Ohio State’s big loss to Purdue. Would wins over Michigan and Northwestern be enough to erase that gap while Oklahoma also beats ranked teams?
Teams from the conference make up nearly a third of the top 25. Eight SEC teams are in the top 25 now that Missouri is at No. 24. The Tigers follow No. 1 Alabama, No. 4 Georgia, No. 9 Florida, No. 10 LSU, No. 15 Kentucky, No. 18 Mississippi State and No. 19 Texas A&M. With Alabama and Georgia facing off Saturday, those same eight teams will be in the final playoff rankings released on Sunday.
With the loser of Alabama-Georgia not going to fall out of the top 12, the conference will have four teams in New Year’s Six bowl games. If Alabama beats Georgia, the Tide will go to a semifinal, Georgia will likely go to the Sugar Bowl and then Florida and LSU will be divided between the Peach and Fiesta Bowls.
Washington State out of a New Year’s Six Bowl?
The Cougars’ loss to Washington not only knocked Washington State out of the playoff hunt and the Pac-12 hunt, it might have dropped Washington State all the way to the Alamo Bowl.
The Cougars currently sit at No. 13 in the rankings and behind four teams from Nos. 7-12 that have no shot to win their conferences. That’s problematic because there are only 11 New Year’s Six spots available to Power Five teams. Washington State could move up to No. 12 but that would be if Washington loses to Utah. And the Utes would be taking a New Year’s Six spot by heading to the Rose Bowl as the Pac-12 champions.