COLUMBUS, Ohio — Now there’s a new reason to ignore the College Football Playoff rankings.
No, it’s not because Ohio State is officially out of the picture. The Buckeyes aren’t eliminated yet, though the odds are undoubtedly not in their favor.
Obviously they are a long shot at this point, and there’s no use trying to paint the No. 13 spot the selection committee handed them after being blown out by Iowa as a positive. This is foreign territory for Urban Meyer at Ohio State with two losses in the regular season, and for the first time he needs absolute chaos to break out around the country for his program to climb into playoff contention.
The Buckeyes don’t deserve to be close to the top-four spots after being humbled by the Hawkeyes and they aren’t, although that’s still a matter of perspective. Certainly there are plenty of schools who would be throwing a party to be ranked in a spot like that, and Meyer has built such a powerhouse that Ohio State is one of the few programs in the country that can see that number and wonder what’s wrong.
It’s also something of a recognition for how dominant the Buckeyes can be when they are fully locked in and a reflection of how impressive their wins have been that the CFP committee settled on that slot for a team that just lost by 31 points to a middle-of-the-road Big Ten opponent.
Now, with all that out of the way, here’s a reminder that may sound familiar: This poll doesn’t matter at all.
Certainly that be interpreted in a completely different way than when it was presented just last week and the Buckeyes were No. 6, but that doesn’t make it any less true. All that really matters for Ohio State is winning the games left on the schedule.
There is an East Division title essentially on the line Saturday when Michigan State rolls into the Horseshoe. Hapless Illinois is on deck after that, and while it might not take anything resembling Ohio State’s best effort to claim that win, it’s no less important to take care of business next week. And then there’s The Game, a rivalry matchup that comes with its own stakes but could still be meaningful in the broader conference and national picture as well.
Ohio State has already learned a painful lesson about what can happen if it doesn’t take every game seriously, and the pummeling it received by Iowa may well be too much of an eyesore on the resume to overcome when the selection committee unveils the rankings that truly count. There’s no way to know with complete certainty at this point, but there’s also no way to erase that loss now and it doesn’t matter when it comes to the Big Ten championship anyway.
Maybe the hole is too deep for the Buckeyes. But there is so much to play for, even if the scenario that gets them back into the College Football Playoff mix requires a healthy imagination at this point.
A division crown can be claimed this weekend. A championship in what appears to be the best conference in the country could still be won. And if the semifinals don’t happen after that, there would still be a nice reward and a major bowl game waiting for the Buckeyes — likely either the Cotton or Peach.
So, that new number by Ohio State may not look great.
But just like last week, it’s totally fine to ignore it.
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