COLUMBUS, Ohio — J.T. Barrett insists he’s not concerned about Ohio State potentially getting left out of the College Football Playoff, even if the Buckeyes fail to make the Big Ten title game.
According to the Ohio State quarterback, the Buckeyes still control their own destiny.
“I see it like this: If we win out all our games, Big Ten championship or not, you’re not going to put us in (the College Football Playoff)? You’re going to leave Ohio State out?” Barrett asked rhetorically. “That’s how I see it. It doesn’t make sense to me.”
Buckeye fans have shared a similar sentiment since Saturday, when Iowa handed Michigan its first loss of the 2016 campaign. With that, Ohio State lost control of its path to winning the Big Ten Championship Game, as Penn State owns a head-to-head tiebreaker with the Buckeyes.
In the first two years of the playoff’s existence, all eight participants have been conference champions.
Barrett, however, believes that so long as the Buckeyes win their two remaining games, they could be the first exception.
The junior signal-caller’s line of thinking makes sense.
At 9-1 on the year and ranked second in both the major polls, Ohio State has an opportunity to add to its resume in the coming weeks with a Nov. 26 date with 9-1 Michigan ahead. Should the Buckeyes prevail, their resume would include four wins against teams currently ranked in the playoff committee’s top 10.
In Barrett’s mind, that should be enough for Ohio State to secure a spot in college football’s final four.
“I know Big Ten championships and conference championships is a major thing,” Barrett conceded. “But I think you’re talking about some of those two-loss teams (getting in over the Buckeyes). That’s something totally different. With that being said, if we win our games, that’s the only thing we can control.”
Again, point Barrett.
The major hole in the argument that the Big Ten title remains a requirement for the Buckeyes making the College Football Playoff is the lack of quality candidates that would be competing with Ohio State. At this point, Alabama is the only apparent lock for clinching a playoff spot. Clemson and Washington also remain in the picture, assuming each wins its respective conferences.
Essentially, the Buckeyes’ primary competition for a playoff spot will be whoever winds up winning the Big Ten title. If Ohio State is left out of the playoff, Wisconsin or Penn State will likely be the Big Ten champion. In the event Wisconsin wins the conference, the Buckeyes could maintain the edge thanks to their head-to-head matchup.
If it’s Penn State, the situation could get stickier. Even with two losses on the year, the Nittany Lions victory over Ohio State could ultimately give them an edge over the Buckeyes in the eyes of the committee.
One way or another, if the Buckeyes win their next two games but fail to receive the help necessary to make the Big Ten title game, the College Football Playoff committee will have a tough call.
In the meantime, Barrett remains unconcerned.
“If I can’t control something, then I don’t put a lot of stress or worry into it,” Barrett said. “The things that happened Saturday and the things that are going to continue to happen throughout the year with other teams, we can’t control that. That’s outside of our little bubble at Ohio State.”
In discussing Michigan’s loss to Iowa and the implications for his team, that was Barrett’s larger point.
None of those hypothetical scenarios, however, will even matter in Columbus if the Buckeyes don’t beat Michigan State this weekend and Michigan the next. And if Ohio State does take care of business, bolstering an already impressive resume, it could still receive help in the form of a Penn State loss to either Rutgers or Michigan State in the next two weeks.
But should the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions each win out, the committee would then determine Ohio State’s playoff fate.
In the event such a scenario plays out, Barrett will still like where the Buckeyes stand.