ARLINGTON, Texas — If the College Football Playoff selection committee wasn’t already feeling some buyer’s remorse, it has one more reason now.
Those voters probably didn’t even need to see more than a half of the Clash of the Conference Champs it slapped together in the Cotton Bowl to get another reminder of its mistake. And, to be fair, there wasn’t all that much to be missed over the final two quarters.
But Ohio State was snubbed, make no mistake about that. That was true before it arrived at AT&T Stadium, and it was even more clear after it left with a 24-7 win over USC, the class of the Pac-12.
And, yes, it’s obviously too late to do anything about it. But that doesn’t mean the committee can’t already feel a little bit of stinging regret.
Ohio State doesn’t get to retroactively add another high-profile win that is better than anything on Alabama’s resume. The Buckeyes don’t get to advance out of the loser’s bracket and get a shot at the team that’s left standing from the four-team field the committee did select. Although, that might even things out this year since Clemson can advance to the title game without beating a Power 5 conference champion like Ohio State just did against the Trojans.
Either way, this was yet another reminder of what these Buckeyes were capable of this season and what could have been had they earned that final invitation into the playoff. And that clearly wasn’t even their best effort in a game they controlled from start to finish against another possible playoff candidate.
The defensive line elevated its game to another level, constantly making touted USC quarterback Sam Darnold feel its impact. J.T. Barrett capped his decorated career with a couple more touchdown rushes to open up a first-half lead. And even with a short-handed roster thanks to likely first-round cornerback Denzel Ward sitting out the bowl, the Buckeyes more than passed that so-called, all-important eye test in a game loaded with future professionals on both sides of the field.
All of this should have been apparent to the committee without the Buckeyes needing to show their work once again. Their best is simply as strong as any team’s in the country, and there were plenty of examples of that before they physically dominated the Trojans.
I can hear those shrieks about the Iowa game again now. Yes, it remains as inexplicable as ever, and it’s certainly an eyesore on the resume. But if Alabama’s best hope was pointing to an Ohio State loss instead of anything it accomplished on its own, there’s obviously nothing there to support its credentials as a contender in the first place.
I know, none of this changes anything and maybe there’s no point in litigating all this over again, since the Buckeyes clearly moved on from the disappointment well enough to handle their business decisively in the Snubbed Super Bowl.
But maybe, just maybe, the committee was paying close enough attention to learn a lesson for next time.
It made a mistake leaving out Ohio State. The Buckeyes will always have a Cotton Bowl trophy to prove it.