Alternate reality: In 12-team format, Buckeyes would have had some juicy matchups

Joey Kaufman
Buckeye Xtra

Since the adoption of the College Football Playoff, Ohio State has been selected four times for the four-team field.

But had a 12-team bracket been in effect, an expansion model endorsed on Thursday by a working group formed by the playoff’s management subcommittee, the Buckeyes would have reached the postseason in each of the past seven seasons.

Under the committee's recommendation, the bracket will consist of the six top-ranked conference champions and six at-large bids. No conference would automatically qualify for the playoff, and there would be no cap on the number of participants from one conference. The rankings would still be determined by the selection committee.

The four highest-ranked conference champions would be given a bye into the second round of games to face the winners of games matching the next eight seeds in games played at the home stadiums of the higher-ranked teams. The quarterfinals, semifinals and finals would then be played at neutral venues. (The current format features all games at neutral-site locations.)

Looking at the final rankings put together by the previous selection committees, Ohio State would have faced some interesting paths to the championship game.

Here is how the Buckeyes would have been seeded, with their alternative scenarios:


The Buckeyes are still seeded third as the third-highest ranked conference champion following Alabama and Clemson.

After receiving a bye to the quarterfinals, a matchup against the winner of sixth-seeded Texas A&M and 11th-seeded Indiana awaits.

If the Hoosiers pull off an opening-round upset, the teams meet for a second time after Ohio State prevailed earlier in a 42-35 win in November.

If a 12-team playoff had been in place since 2014, Ohio State would be the only school to qualify all seven seasons.


Remaining the second seed behind only LSU, Ohio State is set up for a quarterfinal matchup against the winner of seventh-seeded Baylor and 10th-seeded Penn State.

It’s also in line for another Big Ten rematch if the Nittany Lions prevail in the opening round.

In both 2020 and 2019, it must notch a win before facing Clemson in a semifinal.


Rather than a Rose Bowl game against Washington in Urban Meyer’s final season, the Buckeyes are playoff-bound.

And they get a bye, leaping ahead of Notre Dame and Georgia to be seeded fourth as neither is a conference champion.

The Buckeyes face either the fifth-seeded Fighting Irish or 12th-seeded Penn State in the quarterfinals.


A second regular-season loss at Iowa no longer dooms Ohio State’s postseason prospects as it ultimately wins the Big Ten and ends up as the fourth-highest ranked conference champion, clinching the fourth seed.

After a bye, the Buckeyes face the winner between fifth-seeded Alabama or 12th-seeded Central Florida, which went unbeaten during then-coach Scott Frost’s final season and won the American Athletic Conference.


Losing to Penn State and missing out on a Big Ten title hampers the Buckeyes’ seeding.

But they are positioned to get another crack at the Nittany Lions. As the fifth seed, they face 12th-seeded Western Michigan, the sixth-highest ranked conference champion after winning the MAC.

A win would set up Ohio State for a quarterfinal rematch against the Nittany Lions, who are seeded fourth.


Ohio State’s late-season loss to Michigan State is less cataclysmic. Without ending its playoff ambitions, it can still pursue a second consecutive national championship.

But it is a formidable road to capture the ultimate prize, requiring win four straight victories.

The Buckeyes are seeded seventh with a matchup against 10th-seeded North Carolina, and if they win, they must meet second-seeded Alabama in the quarterfinals.


The Buckeyes do not open the playoff against top-seeded Alabama.

Remaining the fourth seed, they must defeat either fifth-seeded Baylor or 12th-seeded Boise State before the possibility of facing the Crimson Tide in the semifinals.