By Joe Leo
Published: November 28th, 2018
With the loss to Ohio State on Saturday, it has now been 20 years since Michigan has beaten Ohio State.
The only game that matters on the schedule for both the Buckeyes and Wolverines is the last game of the year when they play each other. More times than not, that matchup has playoff implications on the line. After the blowout loss, Michigan’s head coach John Harbaugh has yet to beat Ohio State in his tenor in Ann Arbor.
Harbaugh will have to answer questions about his job security that are unfortunately what comes with not beating a bitter division rival for four consecutive years. Harbaugh should not get fired. The Michigan program has played its best football since the turn of the millennium. On top of that—Harbaugh has built a culture in the Wolverine locker room that cannot be duplicated in the entire country. Michigan has also recruited well to get top tier players into the program to continue the level of success that comes with being a member of the Big 10.
Yes, he hasn’t beaten Ohio State, but Brady Hoke didn’t either and Hoke never had as much success at the helm.
The loss also opens up the door in the college football playoff picture. Four teams have a chance for one open slot with Alabama waiting on the other end of it. Ohio State will go to the Big 10 title game against Northwestern to try and bolster their resume and try to get in. Oklahoma will go back to the Big 12 title game at 10-1 as they hope they can get into the playoff for the second consecutive year. Georgia will meet Alabama in the SEC title game and will need a win against the Crimson Tide to get into the picture. And of course, UCF is screaming at the top of their lungs from Orlando as they have gone undefeated for the second straight year.
The team with the most direct path to the playoff as it stands today is UCF. They have done everything under their control to get a chance to compete for the National Championship. The knock against UCF is that it is an independent school. However, Norte Dame is currently in the playoff as an independent school, so that argument will not be enough of a crutch to leave out UCF for the second consecutive season.
Oklahoma shouldn’t be in the conversation because of the conference that they play in. The Big 12 has become a conference where teams play seven on seven for an entire season. The lack of defense in the entire conference deludes the stats put up by the players and the legitimacy of the teams that come out of the conference. If Oklahoma was the outlier in the conference, then what Kyler Murray is doing for Oklahoma leading them to a 10-1 record would totally change the perception of the team. Oklahoma however, has the 116th ranked defense in the country out of 130 teams. That doesn’t scream playoff bound.
Out of all the teams left in the playoff picture, Georgia has the best loss (if there is such a thing) out of all the teams with one loss.
A close loss on the road against a then #3 ranked LSU team will go a long way if they do in fact beat Alabama in Atlanta on Saturday.
If Georgia doesn’t finish the deal in the SEC title game, their chance for a spot and season are over. It’s as simple as that. Even after the win Georgia would need help from the selection committee on their behalf because it would be tough to keep a one loss Alabama team out of the conversation. There is a window for the Bulldogs, but it is small and closing fast.
Ohio State is in the same boat as Georgia, but they have the easiest championship game out of any of the teams in the power five. A meeting in Indianapolis with Northwestern for Ohio State is almost a sure thing for the Buckeyes. If the game goes as outlined, Ohio State will be a one loss team with a conference title. They will also have one of the best wins out of any team in the country beating Michigan. It would be hard for the selection committee to continue to ignore the Big 10 if Ohio State pulls it off.
Like every year since the introduction of the committee, there is a fight going into the final weekend for who should represent the best of the best in college football. With the playoff being as young as it is, this year will set the precedent for what the committee values in their selection process.