Count this as excellent news for No. 2 Ohio State.
While on ESPN’s Russillo & Kanell on Wednesday, College Football Playoff selection committee chairman Kirby Hocutt said the committee has the right to select a team that isn’t a conference champion to make the four-team playoff — if the team is one of the four best in the country.
Kirby Hocutt (Playoff chairman) on ESPN: We have a right to put in a team who doesn't win conf. title if we believe they're one of the best.
— Jeremy Rauch (@FOX19Jeremy) November 16, 2016
This is comforting for Ohio State, which could be 11-1 with wins against Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Michigan but may not even win its division. The Buckeyes moved up to No. 2 in the new College Football Playoff rankings Tuesday night, but if they and Penn State win out, the Nittany Lions would win the Big Ten East and play in the conference championship game.
Whether that will all happen is up for debate, but Hocutt’s comments show Ohio State will be very much in the running for one of the final spots even without a conference title.
Now the question is this: Could the Big Ten get two teams into the playoff? Ohio State at 11-1 and either 11-2 Wisconsin or 11-2 Penn State would make for an interesting case.
But first Ohio State has to take care of what it can control (something Penn State coach James Franklin has made clear himself). The Buckeyes visit Michigan State for a noon ET kick Saturday on ESPN.
Ohio State then returns home for the Nov. 26 rivalry game with No. 3 Michigan.