Alabama's Loss to Auburn Hurts, But Doesn't Kill Ohio State's Playoff Chances

By Kevin Harrish on November 25, 2017 at 6:59 pm
Alabama lost to Auburn.
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Entering this week, the simplest scenario leading to an Ohio State playoff appearance involved Alabama finishing the season undefeated. With the Tide's 26-14 loss to Auburn, things just got a little more complicated for the Buckeyes.

With Alabama now unable to eliminate both Auburn and Georgia from playoff contention, it's now a little more difficult for Ohio State to make the playoff.

The first – and simplest – scenario involves Oklahoma losing next week to TCU in the Big XII Championship game. The winners of next weekend's ACC and SEC championship games will likely get a playoff bid – pending Clemson's performance against South Carolina on Saturday – leaving two spots up for grabs with Alabama, Oklahoma and Ohio State presumably as the top contenders vying for them. A Sooner loss opens slots for both the Tide and the Buckeyes.

A second scenario is Clemson losing to South Carolina on Saturday night and then defeating Miami in the ACC Championship Game. Even in this scenario, it's possible Clemson would get the nod ahead of the Buckeyes if the committee sees it fit.

If Oklahoma wins next week and Clemson beats South Carolina, the decision comes down to the committee, which must decide between a two-loss, Big Ten Champion Ohio State and a one-loss, non-SEC Champion Alabama.

In this scenario, Ohio State has more quality wins – Penn State, Michigan State, Michigan and Wisconsin – but two losses, one of which is much worse than Alabama's. Meanwhile, Alabama's best win came against a Mississippi State team that just lost to Ole Miss for its fourth loss this season.

Of course, none of this matters if Ohio State doesn't beat Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship game next week. That should be priority No. 1 for the Buckeyes regardless of what happens elsewhere.

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