Ohio State is 11-1 But Won't Play in the Big Ten Championship; What's Next?

By Eric Seger on November 26, 2016 at 7:23 pm
Ohio State will not get a chance to play for the Big Ten Championship despite an 11-1 regular season.

The exact date of Ohio State's next game will not be determined for a little while.

Even after a thrilling 30-27 double overtime win against archrival Michigan on Saturday, the Buckeyes will not be in Indianapolis at the Big Ten Championship Game despite an 8-1 league record. Ohio State clinched a share of the East Division with the win over the Wolverines but lost on a tiebreaker.

Penn State beat Michigan State 45-12 on Saturday to finish the regular season 10-2 and 8-1 in the Big Ten. Its 24-21 victory over the Buckeyes on Oct. 22 means James Franklin's team will face off against Wisconsin on Saturday night at Lucas Oil Stadium for Big Ten supremacy.

The Badgers punched their ticket to Indianapolis on Friday when Iowa thumped Nebraska, 40-10. Wisconsin beat Minnesota 31-17 on Saturday afternoon to win the West Division outright.

So what does this mean for Urban Meyer's team? He is 61-5 in five seasons at Ohio State and has one Big Ten championship to show for it. His current team's résumé, however, is among the nation's best.

Ohio State has victories over three of the current top-8 teams in the College Football Playoff rankings—at No. 6 and West Division champ Wisconsin, at No. 8 Oklahoma and on Saturday against No. 3 Michigan in Columbus.

“I don't know. I don't know. I think we're one of the top teams in the country,” Meyer said on Saturday. “Once again, I don't really know that. I go week to week, and I love my players.”

Meyer's team will likely still be ranked in the top-4 on Tuesday when the College Football Playoff committee releases its next batch of rankings. Is an 11-1 record with wins on the road against Oklahoma and Wisconsin in addition to other victories against ranked squads in Michigan and Nebraska enough to get the Buckeyes to the dance? Stay tuned.

College football analyst Kirk Herbstreit thinks Ohio State has done enough to be included in the top-4 next Sunday.

The Buckeyes would benefit from Wisconsin beating Penn State in Indianapolis, another loss by Washington in the Pac-12 Championship or even Virginia Tech shocking Clemson in the ACC title game. The Huskies play either USC or Colorado next Saturday. Plus, we all know Ohio State's brand and fanbase will travel and bring money to the College Football Playoff.

If Penn State and Washington both win next weekend, the discussion will likely come down to which team's body of work is best in the committee's eyes. Penn State lost to Pittsburgh and Michigan by 39 but beat Ohio State. Washington was controlled by USC two weeks ago at home. Yet the Nittany Lions and Huskies could both have conference championships, which Ohio State will not. The Buckeyes lost at night in State College on a pair of fluke plays.

A new precedent is bound to be set in the Playoff era.

No matter what happens, this is the second straight season the Buckeyes have gone 11-1 and not earned a trip to the Big Ten Championship Game. Last season, Ohio State lost a tiebreaker to Michigan State in the East Division after the Spartans won 17-14 in Columbus the Saturday before Thanksgiving.

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