COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The Ohio State Buckeyes’ hopes of making the college football playoff have increased drastically thanks to some help from two upsets in conference championships.
The No. 5 Buckeyes (11-1) look likely to crack the top four and make the semifinals of the CFP after No. 4 USC fell to No. 12 Utah 47-24 Friday night in the Pac-12 championship game.
After going down 14-3 in the first quarter, the Utes roared back with two second quarter touchdowns to enter halftime tied at 17. A big second-half from quarterback Cameron Rising helped Utah to a 30-point second half and the school’s second consecutive Pac-12 title, likely clinching them another trip to the Rose Bowl.
For Heisman favorite quarterback Caleb Williams and USC (11-2), this likely means their hopes of making the Trojans’ first playoff are dashed, thus opening the door for the Buckeyes to make its fifth playoff in the last nine seasons. If the Buckeyes indeed get into the semifinals, they would become the seventh team to enter championship weekend outside the top four and still make the playoff.
“Coach Day, you’re welcome,” remarked Utes coach Kyle Whittingham during his postgame television interview.
Saturday’s results were unlikely to knock the Buckeyes out of the expected top four that will be announced Sunday afternoon. The question is mainly what seed Ohio State will end up in and who the Scarlet & Grey could face on New Years Eve.
The first game of consequence for OSU ended in the Buckeyes’ favor, with the Kansas State Wildcats beating previously undefeated TCU Horned Frogs 31-28 in overtime for the Big 12 championship title. TCU’s first loss of the season means the Buckeyes could jump from No. 5 to No. 3 in Sunday’s rankings.
With No. 1 Georgia’s 50-30 win over No. 11 LSU Saturday night, the Bulldogs more than handily secured the coveted top spot and a golden ticket to the Peach Bowl in Atlanta.
No. 2 Michigan cruised to its second consecutive Big Ten title 43-22 over Purdue, likely sealing the No. 2 spot in the semifinals.
The question that remains, however, is whether TCU’s overtime loss will be consequential enough for Ohio State to usurp the Horned Frogs for spot No. 3 — and secure a chance at redemption for the Buckeyes’ decisive loss against Michigan in the Fiesta Bowl.
Another possible consideration for the committee is whether a two-loss Alabama side leaps TCU into the top four and become the first two-loss team to make the CFP. All the answers to these questions will be discovered at noon on Sunday.
PROJECTED CFP SEMIFINALS
1 Georgia vs. 4 TCU (Peach Bowl – Atlanta, Georgia)
2 Michigan vs. 3 Ohio State (Fiesta Bowl – Glendale, Arizona)