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Kirk Herbstreit Thinks Ohio State Can Make Playoff Without Winning Big Ten

Kirk Herbstreit on the set of College GameDay

Kirk Herbstreit/ESPN.

ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit believes that Ohio State controls its own destiny when it comes to the College Football Playoff, regardless of whether or not it wins the Big Ten.

The third edition of this year's College Football Playoff rankings was unveiled on Tuesday night, and a few things were made clear. Alabama is almost certainly a lock for the Playoff, and if Clemson wins out, the Tigers should be too. It's also starting to look like Ohio State, if it wins out, would be part of the field.

ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit tackled the Ohio State debate on Wednesday morning on ESPN's Mike & Mike. In short, he thinks that Ohio State controls its own destiny for the College Football Playoff despite it not controlling its own destiny in the Big Ten.

"There's a lot of confusion I think with the rankings and it's nobody's fault, I just think fans get caught up with what's happened in previous years. There's an assumption you have to be a conference champion to make it into the four. That if a team wins and they're a conference champion that's a trump card and they should then go ahead of another team. That's what we've seen in the first two years and a lot of the time you hear that brought up. Ohio State, if you remember the first year, they ended up being the conference champion with a sound victory over Wisconsin and they jumped past TCU and Baylor. What we've been taught and trained on by the committee in the offseason is that things like head to head, things like being a conference champion, things like non-conference scheduling - these are all tiebreakers. These are all things that when there are three or four teams are all clustered together, that's what can separate one team from another.

In Alabama's case, if they keep winning, if there was any debate between them and another team in their conference, they've kind of separated themselves in the committee's eyes based on their ranking. If you look at Ohio State, if they beat Michigan State, if they're able to beat Michigan at home, and even skip a Big Ten championship game, their resume alone and with the way they're trending, the committee putting them at a solid No. 2, there's no way they'll take Ohio State, a solid No. 2, and put them to No. 5 if Penn State, for example, becomes the Big Ten champion.

Ohio State, even though they don't control their own destiny to get to Indianapolis, in my opinion, based on what we see from the committee, they do control their own destiny to get into the Playoff if they beat Michigan State and Michigan.

...could the Big Ten potentially have two? If it's Wisconsin (winning the Big Ten) I think there's a better chance of that potentially happening. In fact, if Wisconsin goes on to win out, the debate will be Wisconsin, Louisville - so you could either have two from the ACC or two from the Big Ten - or Washington, if Washington were to win out and become the Pac-12 champs with one loss.

There is plenty of football to be played, but it's certainly starting to look like the selection committee could face its toughest task yet. We'll see how it all plays out.