Now the Buckeyes can only wait. Ohio State rallied to beat Michigan in double overtime on Saturday in one of the classic games of their storied rivalry. They have three wins over teams ranked in the top 10 of the College Football Playoff rankings, including road wins at Oklahoma and Wisconsin.
Now the Buckeyes can only wait.
Ohio State rallied to beat Michigan in double overtime on Saturday in one of the classic games of their storied rivalry. They have three wins over teams ranked in the top 10 of the College Football Playoff rankings, including road wins at Oklahoma and Wisconsin.
Ohio State (11-1) seems to be a lock to be ranked second behind Alabama (12-0) when the new playoff rankings are announced Tuesday night. But that ultimately won't matter; Sunday's final rankings are the only ones that count.
>>> Predict this weekend's top games
Most national observers view the Buckeyes as a near-lock. The website fivethirtyeight.com gives Ohio State an 89 percent chance of qualifying, just 3 percent worse than Alabama's.
But fans being fans, they worry about the 11 percent. After all, 2016 has been about the odds being wrong, right?
For Ohio State to be excluded, more than one thing has to go wrong. If Clemson (11-1) loses to Virginia Tech (9-3) in the Atlantic Coast Conference title game or Washington (11-1) falls to Colorado (10-2) in the Pac-12, the Buckeyes can sleep easily. They're in.
The same probably goes for Wisconsin (10-2) beating Penn State (10-2) in the Big Ten championship game. It's hard to conjure a scenario in which the playoff committee picks the Badgers over Ohio State. The Buckeyes have a better overall record and beat Wisconsin in Madison.
The scenario that would keep the Buckeyes awake on Saturday night is both Washington and Penn State winning by blowouts. Two years ago, Ohio State looked to be on the outside looking in for the first College Football Playoff. Its 59-0 obliteration of Wisconsin swayed the selection committee.
>>> Got a question about the Buckeyes? Ask the Experts!
This year, a 59-0 outcome would not be Ohio State's friend. If Penn State were to crush Wisconsin, the committee will take into consideration the Nittany Lions' impressive second half of the season and their victory over Ohio State.
Last week, playoff selection committee chairman Kirby Hocutt said that the Buckeyes' and Nittany Lions' resumes were not close. Could a Penn State rout on Saturday change that?
As of now, Washington has the inside track for the No. 4 spot and a meeting in the Peach Bowl against Alabama, which is a 24-point favorite over Florida in the Southeastern Conference title game.
If Washington wins big - and Clemson does, too - the Buckeyes could be hurt by not having a chance to make a final statement themselves. There is always the risk that the Buckeyes might slide to the No. 4 spot - or even No. 5 - because of the out-of-sight, out-of-mind syndrome.
If the current rankings hold, Ohio State would play Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Arizona, on Dec. 31. The national championship game is Jan. 9 in Tampa, Florida.
What shouldn't be forgotten in the debate about whether exclusion from the Big Ten title game could hurt the Buckeyes is the fact that it also could help them. A loss in Indianapolis almost certainly would knock Ohio State out of playoff contention. The Buckeyes were taken to the brink in October by the Badgers in Madison before prevailing in overtime.
That should balance the angst about having to play the waiting game. But it probably won't.