April 24, 2014

Win and They’re In

Carmen Ohio Buckeyes 2013

Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo Editor, The Lantern

In this piece, I will strive to explain why Ohio State will be playing for the BCS title if they can defeat Michigan State this Saturday.

What I’m not going to do is defend Ohio State’s resume against that of Auburn. It is asinine and disingenuous to bury your head, point at a two touchdown loss to LSU, and pretend that the Buckeyes have had a more impressive season than the Tigers.

Now, that doesn’t mean I think Auburn is a better team than Ohio State. I don’t. What defenders of the Tigers forget is how profoundly miraculous their last two victories have been. After beating Georgia on a de facto Hail Mary that was deflected by a Bulldogs defensive back who collided with another teammate, the Tigers downed their archrivals Alabama on a 109-yard missed field goal return touchdown that was only allowed to occur because Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban successfully lobbied to have one second added back to the clock so he could attempt the 57-yard field goal. Those are both wins that go in the left column of Auburn’s 11-1 record, but I challenge you to find any team other outside of the Dillon Panthers who has won two consecutive games on such improbable plays.

Add to that a victory over Mississippi State (6-6 by the way) that came on a Nick Marshall to C.J. Uzomah touchdown pass with 10 seconds remaining. That sounds like me tearing down the Tigers resume, but the lucky part of that win lies in the review of the winning touchdown, in which the referees determined that although Uzomah stepped out of bounds while running his route, he was pushed out by a defender, allowing him to come back in and make the catch.

They say it’s better to be lucky than good, and I would agree, but at some point everyone’s luck has to run out.

Many Ohio State critics point to their narrow victory over Michigan as proof that they are undeserving of a spot in the title game. But that analysis fails to consider the complications that come from playing a heated rivalry game on the road. I, and many others, still believe that Alabama is the most talented and complete team in the country, and ask them how playing at the stadium of their most hated opponent worked out.

At the end of the day, the team that will head to Pasadena for the BCS Championship Game should come down to a matter of inertia. The Buckeyes began the season at No. 2 in the polls, beat every opponent on their schedule, and ended in the same spot (in spite of an early season drop to No. 4). Auburn was unranked to open the season and did not enter the polls until beating Western Carolina to make them 5-1, when they were ranked 24. Their rise since then has been meteoric – they jumped 13 spots to number 11 after beating then number seven Texas A&M in their seventh game – but so far it hasn’t been enough to overcome the head start afforded to the Buckeyes.

I haven’t done the calculations, but many people smarter than me have. Many of them have said that Auburn simply has too much ground to make up on the Buckeyes. It’s also important to remember that if Ohio State does win this weekend, it will defeat a very impressive 11-1 Michigan State squad that is ranked tenth in the BCS and has arguably the best defense in the nation. It also should be remembered that Auburn’s opponent in the SEC Championship Game, number five Missouri, is no cupcake. The blue and orange Tigers will be favorites, but they’re in for a challenge in Atlanta.

Personally, I would love to see an Auburn-Ohio State matchup for the BCS Championship. It would give the Buckeyes a chance to put all the War Eagle calls to rest – and I would like their chances to do it. Of course, this is a possibility. It just involves upstart Duke defeating Florida State, the No. 1 team in the country, and Jameis Winston, the presumptive Heisman shoo-in1.

This is a dumb debate to be having before Saturday’s games are played. But then again, how else could the BCS system mark its final season but with a dumb debate?

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Footnotes:

  1. But hey, stranger things have happened. Just look at last weekend. []

  • JNeids

    Allow a Michigan fan to admit it – if OSU wins, they should be in. Plain and simple. This game isn’t called “The Battle of the 2 Best Teams” so I don’t care how good your TEAM is. If you were THAT good, you wouldn’t have lost, regardless of the opponent. Until the playoffs start next season, the regular season is the playoffs and guess what, all but 2 (power conference) teams have lost. End of story. This wouldn’t be the first time the best team didn’t win the championship and it won’t be the last.
    That said, as much as it pains me to say this, Go Green, Go White.

  • 240

    The real dumb part about the SEC honks debate…Mizzou is clearly the superior team to Auburn. It’ll be fun when ESPN/Clay Travis/etc all switch their tune to Mizzou in a little over a day.

  • mgbode

    They are using Auburn because if they tried to use Mizzou, then the argument over who they beat would come up loudly. The only team with more than 8 wins they played this year was South Carolina and they lost.

    They beat UGa when the Bulldogs were wrecked with injuries and they beat A&M last week. Those are their 2 best wins as they did not play Bama, Auburn (yet), or LSU.

    I’m not sure if Mizzou is clearly superior, but I am cheering for them just for the fallout afterwards.

  • mgbode

    funny to have the Wolverines cheering on their little brother this weekend.

  • 240

    I think that nail biting wins over Wazzu and Mississippi St. have bearing as well. Auburn played great vs. Bama…but they lose the Georgia game (at home) 99.9% of the time. And Georgia is garbage. I think Mizzou is the superior team and it will show tomorrow. Then, as we all agree, the “Mizzou is and has always been the greatest” conversation will begin and the honks will think we forgot about the last 3+ months where they never mentioned Mizzou.

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    nailed it with: “It is asinine and disingenuous to bury your head, point at a two touchdown loss to LSU, and pretend that the Buckeyes have had a more impressive season than the [Auburn] Tigers.”

    i think the question is simple: who would win the game between auburn/mizzou victor and osu? i think it’d be auburn tops, then mizzou, then osu. understood that i’m in the minority around here.

    but your point that the question should be framed within a ‘who’s the better team’ context is on the mark. if you’re just looking at undefeated records without allowing for strength of conference/schedule then NIU would be in the conversation too.

    [
    also underreported: FSU's schedule worse than OSU or Auburn or Mizzou. FYI, here is Sagarin’s conference ratings:
    1. SEC-West (Auburn, Bama),
    2. PAC-12S (ASU, UCLA),
    3. PAC-12N (Stanford, Oregon),
    4. SEC-East (Mizzou, SC, UGA),
    5. B1G-Legends (Sparty, Iowa),
    6. Big 12 (OKST, Baylor),
    7. ACC-Coastal (Duke,)
    8. B1G-Leaders (OSU),
    9. ACC-Atlantic (FSU).
    ]

  • JNeids

    You’re tellin’ me…it’s quite the internal debate, but lesser of two evils and such.

  • JNeids

    You’re tellin’ me…it was quite the internal debate but lesser of two evils and such…
    (My apologies if this posted twice)

  • mgbode

    yeah, I get it. Sparty is going to the Rose regardless of what happens, but Bucky is ALSO going to the Rose if we win (and for even higher stakes).

  • mgbode

    who would win the game between auburn/mizzou victor and osu?

    noone knows. that’s why it’s fun. let’s all hope that Duke shocks the world and we can find out though. that’s my favorite possibility for this weekend.

  • cmm13

    “What I’m not going to do is defend Ohio State’s resume against that of Auburn”
    Good, you shouldn’t. In fact if anyone needs to defend their resume it’s the number one ranked Seminoles.

  • 773Buckeye

    Bucky isn’t going anywhere but maybe to the Capital One Bowl, losing to Penn State sealed that!

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Great weekend for football…conference championships in college, high school championships and of course the New England Patriots v the Cleveland Browns!

  • C-Bus Kevin

    If Mich St had gone undefeated to this point…just imagine that for a second. Imagine if two undefeated big ten teams were facing off tomorrow. I think that would have changed the whole narrative.

    Ohio State is one thing, but imagine the outcry if MSU we’re to get in ahead of Auburn. If only…

  • C-Bus Kevin

    For the record…not rooting for MSU.

  • C-Bus Kevin

    For the record…not rooting for MSU.

  • mgbode

    yes, the name-stealing badger will go to Orlando and like it.

  • mgbode

    and, there still sits the possibility that an Alabama team that didn’t even win it’s division could get in over a 1loss BigXII champ Oklahoma State for the 2nd time in 3 years.

  • Rudy

    If Duke beats Florida State I’ll be watching the Browns-Patriots game from my subterranean bomb shelter.

  • Steve

    “At the end of the day, the team that will head to Pasadena for the BCS Championship Game should come down to a matter of inertia.”

    Maybe I’m misreading this, but I don’t get this. Are you saying that because Ohio St started higher, they deserve to stay higher, or that’s just how things will end up? Obviously the latter is right, but I find that part of college football so frustrating. The rankings so frequently come down to ordering teams first by how many losses they had, and then by who started highest in the preseason.

    And while Florida St’ schedule is not strong, that they’ve absolutely rolled teams makes up for a lot of that.