The Buckeyes don’t control their own destiny sitting one spot behind Oklahoma at No. 6 in the latest Playoff Rankings.
Yes Northwestern is ranked, but the fact that Ohio State is playing a four-loss team in the Big 10 Championship won’t move the needle much with the Committee. Not to mention Oklahoma is playing a Top-10 Texas team in the Big 12 Championship. Now Ohio State is in desperate need of style points.
It helps that the win over the hated Wolverines inserted new life into the Buckeyes and now they need to show the Committee what they can do for an encore. Urban Meyer’s boys will have to come out clicking on all cylinders Saturday in Lucas Oil Stadium.
Pat Fitzgerald’s bunch are no pushovers by any means and are downright scrappy. The Wildcats have never been in this position before, but don’t expect them to take it for granted. Northwestern earned its’ spot in the Big 10 Championship by sweeping the entire West Division this season.
The problem for the Wildcats is that they’re catching the Buckeyes at the wrong time. Ohio State has a ton of momentum, playing with extreme confidence and its’ offense is looking scary good. Sophomore signal-caller Dwayne Haskins is the Big 10 Offensive Player of the Year and already broke several Ohio State and Big 10 single-season records.
Unlike Oklahoma, Ohio State’s leaky defense is starting to gel at the right time. The unit allowed 39 points against the Wolverines, but made key stops when needed. The defense must have another strong performance against a lethargic Northwestern offense that’s averaging only 23.6 points per game.
In all honesty Northwestern is extremely over-matched in this game and Ohio State needs to put its’ foot on the gas pedal and not let off. Meyer has shown plenty times that he’s not afraid of running up the score. The 59-0 shutout win over Wisconsin in the 2014 Big 10 Championship proved that.
If Alabama and Clemson both win this Saturday, the perception of Ohio State and Oklahoma will come to forefront in the Committee’s eyes. That’s only assuming that the Buckeyes and Sooners win their conferences.
Ohio State got shutout by Clemson 31-0 their last time in the Playoffs. The Buckeyes always seem to lose a game they shouldn’t and that’s what has kept them out of the Playoffs. The home loss to Michigan State in 2015, the blowout loss at Iowa last season and unfortunately the 29-point loss at Purdue this year may be too much to overcome.
Oklahoma is perceived as chokers. The Sooners have lost their last three National Championship Games and are one and done in both of their Playoff appearances. However, what the Sooners have in their favor is that their Athletic Director Joe Castiglione is a member of the Committee!
Still, expect the Buckeyes to take care of what they can control and that’s potentially winning the Big 10 Championship in blowout fashion. Some are calling this a trap game for Ohio State, but Meyer will have his team in all hands on deck mode for this one. Saturday can’t get here fast enough and Sunday’s selection will be priceless. College Football is full of surprises and that’s why we love the game.