ATLANTA — Ohio State will likely be the big winner this weekend, and the Buckeyes didn’t even play a game.
College Football Playoff “chaos” unfolded when last week’s No. 3-ranked TCU (12-1) and No. 4-ranked USC (11-2) lost in their respective conference championship games.
Those results provided new life for an Ohio State program (11-1) that sat No. 5, in the on-deck circle for the four-team CFP that will begin on Dec. 31 with semifinal games in the Peach Bowl in Atlanta and the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz.
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“It has been an emotional rollercoaster,” Buckeyes coach Ryan Day said Saturday on ESPN College GameDay.
“When you go through a few days where you think that maybe your whole season is gone, and then all of the sudden, you start to build hope and you start to see the opportunity where everything is right out in front of you.
The opponents for the Bulldogs and Wolverines will be sorted out when the CFP rankings are released at noon today (ESPN).
Alabama coach Nick Saban pleaded his case for the 10-2 Tide on Saturday, but no two-loss team has ever made the four-team CFP field, giving Ohio State the upper hand despite its 45-23 home loss to Michigan on Nov. 26.
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The bigger debate, it seems, is where TCU and Ohio State should be seeded.
The CFP typically places great value on teams playing in their conference championship game, and the close nature of the Horned Frogs’ 31-28 loss to Kansas State could keep them above the Buckeyes.
Georgia and Ohio State have met only once, back in 1993, with the Bulldogs prevailing by a 21-14 count in the Citrus Bowl.
The Buckeyes have a dangerous quarterback in Heisman Trophy finalist C.J. Stroud, along with a big receiver threat in BIletnikoff finalist Marvin Harrison Jr.
“There’s been a whole swing in the program in the last 24 hours,” Day said on Saturday following a loss by No. 4 USC to Utah in the Pac-12 Championship Game that opened the door for the Buckeyes to get in.
“There’s a lot of excitement… You get an opportunity to go play in this thing, you’re two games away from a national championship after feeling like, a few days ago, your season was over.”
Georgia coach Kirby Smart, basking in the glory of his second SEC Championship Game win in seven years on Saturday, claimed to have no knowledge of any of the CFP goings on around him.
“I have not seen one thing; tried not to pay attention to any of it,” Smart said Saturday night from Mercedes-Benz Stadium. “That’s so far away that, like, we don’t control it. Number two, so far away you got time to prepare for it.”
The AP Top 25, Coaches Poll and NFF-Super 16 Polls will also come out later today, albeit, window-dressing outside of the all-important CFP rankings.
(Mike Griffith Super 16 ballot)
1. Georgia (13-0)
2. Michigan (13-0)
3. TCU (12-1)
4. Alabama (10-2)
5. Ohio State (11-1)
6. Clemson (11-2)
7. Tennessee (10-2)
8. USC (11-2)
9. Washington (10-2)
10. Kansas State (10-3)
11. Utah (10-3)
12. Penn State (10-2)
13. Florida State (9-3)
14. LSU (9-4)
15. Oregon State (9-3)
16. Oregon (9-3)