Ohio State’s loss to Penn State made the Buckeyes’ road to the College Football Playoff a little more difficult, but Urban Meyer’s team can still reach its ultimate goal.
Some believed Ohio State’s chances of reaching the College Football Playoff dwindled yard by yard as Penn State’s Grant Haley sprinted toward the end zone. The blocked field goal and subsequent touchdown sent the Buckeyes to a 24-21 defeat and knocked them from the ranks of the unbeaten.
In reality, Ohio State has just as good of a shot to make the Playoff as it did had it won Saturday night in Happy Valley.
Consider this: Three of the four teams in each of the first two editions of the College Football Playoff had a loss. Not every one of those defeats came against quality competition either, as Michigan State still made it last year despite losing to a Nebraska team that finished 6-7.
If you’re not into trends, let’s break it down as it pertains to the Big Ten race. If Ohio State wins its final five games, it would add to its resume victories over current No. 7 Nebraska and No. 2 Michigan along with its earlier win at then-No. 14 Oklahoma in Norman. If the Wolverines are undefeated going into their matchup with the Buckeyes on Nov. 26 and Penn State wins out, there would be a three-way tie atop the Big Ten East.
Ohio State would go to the Big Ten title game because of its head-to-head win over Michigan and a better overall record than Penn State, which has losses to Pittsburgh and Michigan. The Buckeyes are likely to have a rematch with either Nebraska or Wisconsin for the conference championship, adding another victory over a quality opponent should it win the Big Ten title game.
If these scenarios play out, it will be as if Ohio State never lost to Penn State. The College Football Playoff committee won’t leave out a one-loss Big Ten champion, especially if it is Ohio State.
“(If) you lose a game, you’re not a loser. If you lose a game, you accept it,” coach Urban Meyer said at his Monday press conference. “That’s the message to our players. We work so hard so that doesn’t happen. It happened. Move on.”
It’s not as if the Buckeyes played poorly. They allowed 276 total yards and recovered a fumble while forcing to the Nittany Lions to go just 2-of-13 on third-down conversions.
That’s the main reason Meyer became annoyed with the questions about how a rare loss would affect the Buckeyes heading into Saturday’s home matchup with Northwestern. He is moving forward, and he told the media in attendance to, “make sure our players don’t have to do this, okay?”
“It’s not time to go dive into people. It’s time to correct issues,” Meyer said.
Should the Buckeyes fix a couple small problems, last week could very well be a minor setback on their way to the College Football Playoff.