Ohio State came back to win the Big Ten over Wisconsin but will the first-half struggles cost them the No. 1 spot in the College Football Playoff rankings?
And with that, Championship Weekend has drawn to a close. In the final Power 5 championship game of the weekend slate, the No. 1 Ohio State Buckeyes defeated the No. 8 Wisconsin Badgers for the second time this season, this time in the Big Ten Championship. Ohio State has punched its ticket to the College Football Playoff by dominated Wisconsin in the second half, winning 34-21.
After being down 21-7 heading into halftime at Lucas Oil Stadium to the Badgers, the Buckeyes outscored Wisconsin 27-0 in the second half to win this one decidedly. Per usual, Ohio State leaned on its three best players to earn victory No. 3 on the season.
Quarterback Justin Fields completed 19-of-31 passes for 299 yards and three touchdowns. Running Back J.K. Dobbins had a phenomenal day on the ground, as he rushed for 172 yards on 33 carries for one touchdown. While the Wisconsin offensive line kept him in check during the first half, defensive end Chase Young made a ton of plays in the Badgers backfield in the second half.
Overall, the Buckeyes did what they needed to do to ensure that they’ll have a top-two seed in the College Football Playoff. The problem is did they do enough to stay at the top spot? The LSU Tigers obliterated the Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC Championship to the tune of 37-10. Did the Bayou Bengals do enough to leapfrog Ohio State and earn the top seed in the four-team tournament?
Well, there are three things in Ohio State’s favor over LSU. The Buckeyes have five wins over teams ranked in the top-25 as of this week, compared to LSU’s four. Ohio State’s margin of victory (24.5) is essentially double that of LSU (12.3) against top-25 opponents. And the Buckeyes have a slightly better opponent winning percentage (.584) when compared to LSU (.572).
All three of those metrics are true, but we do have to factor in that three of Ohio State’s five wins over top-25 teams lost on Sunday, while just one did with LSU. Ohio State beat Wisconsin for a second time this season and the Cincinnati Bearcats lost for a third time this year, falling to the Memphis Tigers for the second game in a row, this time in the AAC Championship Game.
For that reason, Cincinnati may no longer be a top-25 win for the Buckeyes when the Selection Committee meets for the final time on Sunday. It’s still a good win to have, but it would have looked a lot better if the Bearcats were representing the Group of 5 in the Cotton Bowl Classic.
What the top seed will come down to between LSU and Ohio State might very well be the ever-popular eye test. These are two perfect teams who have dominated every team they’ve come across.
With all four of LSU’s top-25 wins to be against teams that will surely finish ranked inside of the top-15, plus, a more complete championship game victory, that just might be enough to sway a few members of the Selection Committee in favor of making LSU the top team in the field.
Even if it seems that these two teams are destined to meet for the national title in New Orleans, that’s not necessarily a guarantee. Sure, getting the top seed to ensure that you get to pick your venue of choice would be great, but the most important thing here is avoiding the Clemson Tigers in the national semifinals. Clemson could beat either of these teams. Oklahoma, not so much.