SINCE the creation of the College Football Playoff (CFP) in 2014 no team with two losses on their resume has graced the playoff. In each of the past three seasons, there has been an undefeated team and three team’s with one L who the committee selected to fight for the annual national championship. That makes Ohio State’s current position all the more challenging after their 31-16 loss to the Oklahoma Sooners at home last weekend. If they are to qualify for their third CFP appearance in four years, they have their work cut out for them.
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What’s Going Wrong?
OHIO State’s inability to pass the ball and defend against the pass has been the glaring issue through the first two games of their season. Quarterback J.T. Barrett has completed 39 of 70 passes thus far (55.7%), yet he has visibly struggled to complete throws for big chunks of yardage. The defense has also given up over 800 yards in the air in the past fortnight, with their young secondary struggling early on.
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OHIO State’s schedule from here out isn’t as challenging as some of the other teams vying for a playoff spot. They are likely to enter as favourites for most, if not all of their remaining matches, including when they host #5 Penn State and visit #7 Michigan. Nothing is a formality though and if they are able to go win out from here and qualify for the Big Ten title match, they will need to improve, clearly. A win in the title game would probably punch their ticket for the CFP, but they can’t afford any other slip ups…
The Rest Of The Field
…HOWEVER, should they drop another game along the way and still finish as the 11-2 Big Ten champs making the semi finals still isn’t impossible. While a two loss team is yet to make it, if the field falls a certain way then it can still happen. The likes of Clemson, Alabama, USC and Oklahoma are currently the top four ranked squads and will likely be the top candidates to fight for the four spots along with the Buckeyes. Of those four others, USC and Clemson are the two likeliest to fall out of the race and if they finish with two L’s along with Ohio State things could get very interesting.
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THE Buckeyes’ strength lies in their ability to both stop the run and effectively rush the ball themselves. If they find their passing attack and the defense can learn to stop opposing passing threats, then Ohio State definitely has the talent to turn around their fortunes. They need to win out to confirm their place in the final four and there is a real possibility of them doing that. A lot of their success hinges on the production of J.T. Barrett and he has the talent to produce plenty of Buckeye W’s.
AT this time of the year, everyone is still in contention and don’t count out the likes of an outsider like Oklahoma State, LSU, Louisville or Penn State going on a massive run to cause an upset. From here on out it’s up to Ohio State to determine if they will make it or not. Their front seven is one of the most intimidating groups in the league and their running attack is dominant. It may well come down to the Big Ten title game (likely against Wisconsin) to decide their fate. Let’s see what they’re made of.
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