Ohio State and Michigan could be on a collision course for a rematch in the College Football Playoff.
The likelihood of that possibility increased Saturday when TCU lost to Kansas State in the Big 12 Championship Game.
While TCU is still expected to make the College Football Playoff with a 12-1 record, the Horned Frogs’ loss to the Wildcats could potentially push them below Ohio State in Sunday’s final CFP rankings. The Buckeyes were ranked ahead of TCU before losing to Michigan last weekend, and TCU’s only victory since then was a win over 4-8 Iowa State.
If Ohio State jumps TCU in the final rankings to become the No. 3 seed in the CFP, that would likely set up a 2 vs. 3 matchup between Ohio State and Michigan in the College Football Playoff semifinal at the Fiesta Bowl after Georgia secured the No. 1 seed with its SEC Championship Game win on Saturday afternoon.
A CFP semifinal rematch of The Game remains far from guaranteed. Given that the Horned Frogs have 12 wins compared to the Buckeyes’ 11 and their first and only loss of the season Saturday came in overtime – whereas Ohio State’s loss to Michigan was by 22 points – it’s very possible the Horned Frogs stay put in the rankings, leaving plenty of intrigue about how the top four teams will be ranked on Sunday even if it‘s now clear which four teams will play for a national championship.
If Ohio State stays behind TCU and gets the No. 4 seed in the playoff, the Buckeyes would head to Atlanta to play Georgia in the Peach Bowl.
Though the College Football Playoff selection committee has repeatedly denied it manipulates the final rankings to create desirable matchups in the semifinals, the CFP has historically avoided pitting teams from the same conference against each other in the semifinals. In the three previous instances that two teams from the same conference have made the field of four, those teams have never met one another in the semifinals, though Georgia and Alabama went on to meet each other in the national championship game both times the SEC has had two teams in the playoff.
Despite that history, there’s reason to believe the committee would be more inclined to make an Ohio State/Michigan semifinal happen than prevent it from happening – considering the Nov. 26 matchup between the Buckeyes and Wolverines was the most-watched regular season in college football in the last 11 years.
.@FOXSports' record-breaking weekend continues!— FOX Sports PR (@FOXSportsPR) November 27, 2022
Michigan-Ohio State was the most-watched regular season CFB game EVER on FOX with 17 million viewers
- Most-watched regular season CFB game on any net since 2011
- Peaked at 19.6 million viewers
- Up +3% over 2021's matchup on FOX pic.twitter.com/DdZglhNJqP
If Ohio State ends up meeting Michigan in the CFP, it will be the first time the Buckeyes and Wolverines have ever played each other twice in the same season.
Ohio State players would surely love to have the opportunity to avenge their only loss of the regular season, and Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy is among the Wolverines who are welcoming the prospect of facing the Buckeyes again.
J.J. McCarthy on a potential rematch with Ohio State: "Please. Please. Bring it on."— Isaiah Hole (@isaiahhole) December 4, 2022
Assuming Ohio State is in the playoff, which seems like a near-certainty now that both TCU and USC have lost, we’ll find out for sure who the Buckeyes will meet in the semifinals on Sunday at 12:15 p.m., when the final rankings will be released on ESPN.