There are four college football teams that are unquestioned locks to make the expanded 12-team College Football Playoff: Georgia and Texas out of the SEC, as well as Oregon and Ohio State out of the Big Ten. A lot can change between now and then, but I think the Dawgs will face the Longhorns in Atlanta and the Buckeyes will face the Ducks in Indianapolis. These four teams should be exceptional.
Interestingly enough, there are a few teams that were not mentioned among that foursome. Ole Miss is probably the first team out for me in that regard, but Alabama, Michigan and Washington will have to navigate new coaching staffs after making the final four-team playoff a year ago. This is huge for Georgia, Texas and Oregon, but especially Ohio State. The Buckeyes might be the favorite to win it all.
While I think getting past multiple Big Ten and SEC behemoths in an expanded postseason format will be easier said than done, Ohio State is strong and powerful heading into spring practice. Ryan Day's team hit the transfer portal so hard. The Buckeyes also unraveled their best NIL plan to date. With so many key pieces returning and so many new faces coming together, expectations are sky-high now.
Here are three Ohio State newcomers who can help propel the Buckeyes past the Wolverines for a Big Ten Championship and into the expanded 12-team playoff as a serious national title contender.
Ohio State football: 3 newcomers who will bring Buckeyes championships
3. Caleb Downs picking Ohio State over Georgia is absolutely massive
Wouldn't it be something if Ohio State met Georgia in the expanded College Football Playoff? The last time these two teams met, Georgia eked out a one-point victory over the Buckeyes in a Peach Bowl for the ages. Ohio State fans will never forget that unfortunate moment for them in Atlanta as 2022 drew to a close. But the Buckeyes may have beaten out Georgia in one key area with Caleb Downs...
With Nick Saban retiring, many players like Downs left Alabama by way of the transfer portal. He may hail from the Greater Atlanta area, but he picked the Buckeyes in one of the most highly-contested transfer portal wooing periods we have ever seen. Rumor has it he was in Athens looking for an apartment the day before he committed to Ohio State. No love will be lost from Dawg Nation for this.
What I love the most about Downs being at Ohio State is he pretty much immediately becomes the best defensive back in the Big Ten simply upon arrival. He has great instincts, and really flashed at times at Alabama last season. Errant throws in Big Ten play will end up as big returns the other way thanks to the many Downs interceptions he is sure to haul in. He is a total game-changer defensively.
Georgia is not talent-poor in the back-end of its defense, but the Dawgs will regret missing out here.