ANALYSIS: CFP committee gets it right with Ohio State playoff omission

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Henry Palattella

Before I get too far on my soapbox about Ohio State, I’d first like to offer a preface with this: I am a self-identifying Ohio State hater. I have disliked Ohio State almost my entire life, and I think my hatred for the Scarlet and Grey has only grown as I’ve gotten older. Now, as I’ve gotten closer to leaving school and entering the world as a sports journalist, I’ve tried to not let this disdain cloud my objective view of the school.

Now, all of that being said, the 13-member College Football Playoff Committee made the right decision in not making Ohio State one of the four best teams in the country.

In the end, the final rankings had very few surprises. Alabama, Clemson and Notre Dame (all of whom finished the regular season unbeaten) took the top three rankings, while one-loss Oklahoma took the fourth and final spot in the college playoff. In the end, it became a fight between the aforementioned Sooners, Ohio State and Georgia for the final spot in the playoff, with the Bulldogs finishing fifth.

Ohio State didn’t make the decision easy for the Committee over the past two weeks. First it blew out a Michigan team that, based off previous rankings, the Committee loved before just stifling Northwestern in the Big Ten Championship on Saturday. In those performances, the Buckeyes, as if they had the highest ceiling of any team in the country, with its stifling defense serving as the perfectly complement for its high-scoring offense.

But all this happened under the choking smog of the Buckeyes lone loss: A 49-20 dud of a loss to Purdue on Oct. 20. This, coupled with Ohio State’s narrow 52-51 win over Maryland (a game that Ohio State should have lost) was too much for the Committee to overlook.

In the end, Committee chairman Rob Mullen said that the Committee felt that “No (team) was unequivocally better than the other,” meaning that they went through their list of protocols in selecting the final team — protocols that put the Sooners in over Ohio State. It’s not Ohio State’s fault that they had to play Northwestern in the Big 10 championship (who, despite its magical year, isn’t the biggest name) while Oklahoma beat No. 14 Texas in the Big-12 Championship game.

Oklahoma suffocated Texas on Saturday, a victory that not only avenged the Sooners lone loss this season (a three-point loss to the Longhorns at a neutral field on Oct. 6), but also proved that, when necessary, its defense can get stops.

Past decisions have demonstrated the Committee values only having one loss (or, for you conspiracy theorists out there, showed that the Committee will do anything to get Alabama in the playoff) and its decision this year just reinforced that opinion. The Committee felt that Georgia’s narrow loss over Alabama meant more than Ohio State’s conference championship over a lesser opponent, and ranked the teams as such.

At this point, an expansion of of the playoff seems like inevitability. It’s almost criminal that a team like UCF that has won 25(!) games in a row doesn’t even get a serious chance at contending at the championship. Personally, I think they expand the playoff to eight teams, with the champions of each “Power 5” conference getting an automatic bid, with three teams fighting for the final “at-large” spots.

But until then, the Committee has to follow protocols when sifting through the “best vs. deserving argument,” and made the right decision in choosing Oklahoma as the winner.

Henry Palattella is the editor. Contact him at [email protected]