One week from today, the second-ever College Football Playoff field will be unveiled.
Will the reigning national champions, Ohio State, be among the four teams selected? Probably not.
The Buckeyes (11-1) aren't completely out of it, though. With some help from another team or two, Urban Meyer's squad can make it back to the playoff to defend its 2014 national title.
">@CFBPlayoff give us another shot pic.twitter.com/tVrX5zwmV2
— EzekielElliott#⃣1⃣5⃣ (@EzekielElliott)
— Ezekiel Elliott (@EzekielElliott) November 28, 2015
">November 28, 2015
Here's how it can happen.
Ohio State, No. 8 in last week's College Football Playoff rankings, will likely be No. 6 this week, behind Clemson, Alabama, Oklahoma, Iowa, and Michigan State. Two spots in the College Football Playoff field are pretty much locked up: Oklahoma and the winner of the Iowa-MSU Big Ten Championship Game.
So, Meyer's team needs one of these two things to happen, probably.
1. Alabama loses to Florida in the SEC Championship Game
The Crimson Tide are a lock to make the playoff with a win next Saturday. A win is pretty likely, too. Alabama is a 17.5-point favorite. A loss to the Gators will eliminate the Crimson Tide from the playoff, though, and Florida, with two losses, is unlikely to make it with a win. So, if Florida beats Alabama, Ohio State can sneak in at No. 4, behind Clemson, Oklahoma and either Michigan State or Iowa.
This is, by far, the most reasonable way for Ohio State to make it in. It's possible OSU could get jumped by a two-loss Pac-12 champion in Stanford, but we think the committee would go with the Buckeyes.
2. Clemson loses to North Carolina in the ACC Championship Game
While a Tigers' loss to the Tar Heels is far more probable than an Alabama loss to Florida, it's very possible a 12-1 UNC team would make it into the playoff. North Carolina will have won 12 straight games, a win against the No. 1 team in the country and a conference title. That's a recipe for a playoff berth.
It's not a guarantee, though. Ohio State will surely be ranked higher than North Carolina in this week's rankings. Both teams will have one loss. OSU will have played a tougher schedule. And the Buckeyes are the reigning national champions. Many believe they're the most talented team in the country, too, coming off a dominant performance at No. 10 Michigan.
It wouldn't be surprising if the committee went with a 11-1 Ohio State team over a 12-1 North Carolina team. Don't count on it, though.
So, there you have it, Ohio State fans.
Root for Florida and North Carolina on Saturday - especially the Gators. Root for a Stanford loss to USC, too.
The College Football Playoff field is set to be unveiled next Sunday on ESPN.