Well, according to (the oft maligned) Heather Dinich, yes:
5. If Ohio State loses Saturday, would it still finish in the top four?
Early prediction: Yes.
Here's why: Ohio State is just that good, and the committee has held Penn State in high enough regard all season that it wouldn't be a bad loss if the Buckeyes fall at home to the Nittany Lions. Assuming in this scenario that Penn State goes on to win the Big Ten, PSU would earn the No. 3 spot behind the SEC champ and Clemson, and Ohio State would be No. 4.
It would also wind up being a better loss than Oregon's defeat to Auburn, assuming the Tigers finish with four losses. "Ohio State is strong on both sides of the ball," Mullens said Tuesday. "They've made a statement all year long."
The difference between Alabama and Ohio State as potential one-loss teams that didn't win their divisions starts with the fact that Ohio State has been ranked higher all season. Barring an unexpected extraordinary performance by Alabama backup quarterback Mac Jones over the next two games, the Buckeyes would also have the edge at quarterback in Justin Fields, and their defense has been more consistently dominant. Ohio State is beating its opponents by an average of 41 points per game, while the defense leads the nation in holding opponents to 9.8 points per game.
"We certainly do not incent margin of victory," Mullens said, "but we understand those were all convincing wins for Ohio State."
I've always maintained that we could lose to TTUN and still make the playoff as long as we beat PSU and win the B10, but I had not considered this possibility. It's not all that crazy actually. I think the conventional wisdom is that if a one-loss Georgia beats a one-loss LSU in the SEC championship, both will make it in. This scenario isn't that different, in that both OSU and PSU have been considered as worthy playoff teams in the eyes of the committee, just like LSU and Georgia. As long Ohio State beats TTUN and LSU wins the SEC championship, the Buckeyes would still be making a very strong argument for the 4th seed as the best one-loss team. It's just like Bama in 2017, except we need PSU to win the B10 championship (in 2017, Bama needed Auburn, the team that beat them, to lose the SEC championship).
Let's hope it doesn't come to any of that because I'm tired of relying on the whims of of the playoff committee. Just beat PSU and let the rest fall into place.