Ohio State football coach Ryan Day thought the Buckeyes deserved to be the No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoff. The CFB selection committee disagreed, however, elevating LSU above OSU for the No. 1 spot. That means the Buckeyes will face defending national champion Clemson Dec. 28 in Glendale, Arizona.
Ohio State wanted to be the top seed in the College Football Playoff and thought it deserved to be.
The CFP selection committee disagreed. Or at least it believed that Louisiana State was more worthy of the No. 1 ranking and pushed the Tigers ahead of the Buckeyes.
The seeding meant more than merely bragging rights. Ohio State falling to No. 2 pits the Buckeyes against defending national champion Clemson, the third seed, in the Fiesta Bowl at 8 p.m. Dec. 28 in Glendale, Arizona.
The Buckeyes (13-0) would have been solid favorites against No. 4 Oklahoma. Instead, they are 2-point underdogs against Clemson (13-0).
"Do I feel we should have been the No. 1 seed? Yeah," Ohio State coach Ryan Day said. "But LSU’s had an unbelievable season. What Joe’s done and what that team’s done, they’ve done a great job."
Day was referring to LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, the Ohio State transfer who is now the heavy favorite for the Heisman Trophy.
Ohio State probably needed a dominating victory over No. 8 Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game to remain ahead of LSU, which routed No. 4 Georgia 37-10 in the Southeastern Conference title game Saturday afternoon. Instead, the Buckeyes trailed 21-7 at halftime before outscoring Wisconsin 27-0 in the second half for a 34-21 victory.
"These teams have been extremely close," CFP selection committee chair Rob Mullens said on ESPN about Ohio State and LSU. "We’ve gone round and round each week.
"The key elements the last couple of weeks has been the LSU defense that has been healthy and playing solid. You add an impressive win against a Georgia team that was our No. 4 team last week. It moved LSU that one last time just above Ohio State."
LSU will play Oklahoma at 4 p.m. Dec. 28 in the Peach Bowl in Atlanta.
Disappointed as the Buckeyes may be, Day said they would not dwell on the committee’s ranking.
"It’s not an easy decision, so nothing but respect for the committee," he said. "I thought we made our case, but it’s time to move on."
He knows how formidable Clemson is. "What Clemson’s done, I can see that argument (that the Tigers should be No. 1) as well," Day said.
Ohio State has played Clemson twice this decade. Three years ago, the Tigers shut out the Buckeyes 31-0 in the CFP semifinal, also in the Fiesta Bowl. The 2013 Buckeyes lost 40-35 to the Tigers in the Orange Bowl.
Clemson has won 28 straight games, the longest winning streak among Football Bowl Subdivision teams. That includes a 44-16 blowout of Alabama in last year CFP finals.
"Clemson is a great football team," Ohio State redshirt sophomore center Josh Myers said. "We obviously have great respect for our opponent. To get ready for this game, it’s going to take as much focus and preparation as we can possibly do in three weeks."
The Buckeyes won an unprecedented third straight outright Big Ten title Saturday night. A conference championship the past two years wasn’t enough to get Ohio State into the playoff. So for the Buckeyes, qualifying for the playoffs trumps whether or not they were the top seed.
"I think we all thought it could have gone either way," Myers said. "LSU is obviously a great football team, and we’re just so happy to be in this thing.
"I’ve never been there. We went in 2016, but I wasn’t here yet. This is a whole new deal for me. I’m just so excited."