Before I start, I want to throw some quick facts everyone’s way about the bowl games for the major Big Ten teams this season (Rankings are college football playoff ranks. Since Nebraska was ranked in the AP Poll, I’m including them in these games)
Holiday Bowl (San Diego, California): (24) USC: 45,
USC is 125 miles from the stadium. Nebraska is 1,558.
Citrus Bowl (Orlando, Florida): (16) Missouri: 33
(25) Minnesota: 17
They’re both really far from Orlando. This is a neutral site game. Congrats to Mizzou.
Outback Bowl (Orlando, Florida): (19) Auburn: 31
(18) Wisconsin: 34
Auburn is 463 miles from the stadium. Wisconsin is 1,348.
Cotton Bowl (Arlington, Texas): (5) Baylor: 41
(8) Michigan State: 42
Baylor is 98 miles from the stadium. Michigan State is 1,136.
Sugar Bowl (New Orleans, Louisiana): (1) Alabama: 35
(4) Ohio State: 42
Alabama is 292 miles from the stadium. Ohio State is 914.
I understand nobody wants to go to Wisconsin in January, but I just like to look at those numbers because it makes it that much sweeter. Now… on to my rant.
Time to ruffle some feathers, people. In case you weren’t aware, I am an Ohio State fan. Like most Ohio State fans, I make it painfully obvious by yelling “O-H!” every time I see someone in any type of Buckeye apparel. Of course, the person on the other end will immediately respond. It’s gotten to the point where not replying with “I-O!” and a fist pump is almost worse than leaving a high five hanging. I will freely admit that Ohio State fans are obnoxious. Heck, I’ll even say that we are the 2nd most obnoxious fans in all of major sports. So, who is the most obnoxious group? The Buckeye haters—especially the ones who double as analysts. The way Ohio State and the Big Ten were disrespected this year is a joke.
I would LOVE to know how many critics of Ohio State’s schedule actually watched the Big Ten this season. Because anyone who saw Wisconsin’s running game would have seen them beating Auburn. I’ll admit that I had Wisconsin winning by double digits, but a win is a win. On top of that, there’s no way Michigan State should have been a shock to anyone either. But guess what? It’s cool to say the Big Ten is horrible. Why is that? Because they were ONCE the most overrated conference in college football? When Florida and LSU slaughtered the Buckeyes in back-to-back seasons, there is no doubt the Big Ten had been overrated for a while. However, what exactly does that have to do with 2014? Why is Urban Meyer the best coach in the country when he’s in the SEC, but he comes to the Big Ten and now you don’t hear his name? Riddle me that, Mark May.
So, because I know none of you actually watched this team play this year, let me give you a little recap of our undeserving season. We get to start off the year with the news that our starting quarterback, and one of the preseason Heisman leaders, won’t play this season. We were already being labeled as the “overrated” team coming in ranked #4, and we proved our critics right against Virginia Tech. It’s crazy to think that a kid playing the most important position on the field, in his first meaningful college football game, would play poorly. This might be the only full game that Mark May watched the Buckeyes play.
There are two types of athletes in the world—competitors and non-competitors. I think it’s safe to say we found out what type of player J.T. Barrett is. This kid put together one of the best college football seasons in recent history and led the Buckeyes to win after win. It wasn’t always pretty, but please remind me what great college football team hasn’t struggled with any opponents.
Let’s talk about Michigan State. Oh, Sparta, I genuinely felt bad for you this year. See, last season, when Michigan State beat Ohio State, they were hailed as the only legit Big Ten team. This year’s team fought hard, but eventually lost to a team that was better than them. So now, just ONE YEAR LATER, Michigan State is “overrated”, “just a product of a horrible conference”, and all sorts of other labels that are simply, OBJECTIVELY, untrue. So THANK YOU Sparta. The way you played against Baylor (you know, that team that should have been in the playoffs ahead of Ohio State) was a beautiful display from an underrated and underappreciated team.
Conference championship week. Ohio State vs. Wisconsin. Wisconsin’s running game would be too much for the Buckeyes. Oh, and one minor detail. Heisman candidate J.T. Barrett broke his ankle against Michigan, leaving the Buckeyes with their THIRD-string quarterback, Cardale 12-Guage Jones. The Badgers’ defense would stifle this kid. The first game of his career is in a conference championship game? Mark May has been waiting all season for something like this to happen. Touchdown, Ohio State. Touchdown, Ohio State. Touchdown, Ohio State. Touchdown, Ohio State. And however many more times I need to say that until the score reaches 59-0. All of a sudden, “Wisconsin is awful.” “Wisconsin is the worst 15-seed in the history of college football.” “With a conference like this, OF COURSE Ohio State only has one loss.” So shoutout to the Badgers. The worst 15-seed in the history of sports just beat Auburn (who was viewed by many as the team with the best shot to beat Alabama) in a game that should not have been nearly as close as the score. It turns out, Wisconsin’s RECORD SETTING running game is actually pretty good. The Buckeyes were just the better team this season.
Alabama is clearly better than any other team in the country. Oregon avenged their early season loss by slaughtering that same team in the conference championship game. Florida State went undefeated in the most unimpressive way possible and against the weakest conference of the Power 5. But, undefeated is undefeated, and I will never argue the fact that Florida State earned the right to get destroyed by Oregon. One playoff spot left. TCU. Baylor. Ohio State. I said it then and I’ll say it again: Baylor ruined TCU’s shot at the playoffs. For the record, I believe all three teams deserved to be in the playoff, but I also believe any playoff system should be at least eight teams. I still have yet to hear a legitimate argument as to why the Buckeyes did not deserve the 4th spot over both of these teams. If the Big 12 had a championship game, surely one of those two teams would have been in. But they don’t. 12-1 is better than 11-1. Baylor’s loss to West Virginia was at least as bad as Ohio State’s loss to Virginia Tech (let’s all remember that Baylor was healthy, at least compared to the Buckeyes). However, Baylor beat TCU and Kansas State. Tough to put TCU ahead of a team that beat them and finished with the same record. Plus, Ohio State just beat a 15th-ranked Wisconsin team 59-0.
So the only remaining argument is that Ohio State played a horrible schedule. I don’t even need to say any more about that. The people who claimed the Big Ten was horrible this year are the people who didn’t watch the conference. The people who thought the Buckeyes would get annihilated against Alabama are (and have been proven) clueless. ESPECIALLY if they paid attention to the Wisconsin and Michigan State games. Plus, the Buckeyes have a decent coach you may have heard of. Exactly WHEN has Urban Meyer gotten blown out in his career as a coach? The guy has won 84.4% of the games he’s coached. (If he did get blown out at all, please remind me, because I didn’t take the time to look up all of his games).
Did the committee get it right? Yes. Did the committee get it perfect? Not at all. That wasn’t an option. Five teams very clearly deserved to be in the playoffs this season, and I would have loved to see Michigan State and Baylor in there as well. I am thrilled that TCU beat down Ole Miss. With 5 power conferences, there is no way the playoffs should be restricted to four teams. I’m all about player safety, so go ahead and eliminate one of the regular season games. Does Bama really need to play Florida Atlantic?
Finally, I will leave you with a few thoughts:
- Think about how many times the BCS got it wrong in the past. This year’s national championship matchup would have seen Alabama on one side of the field. Florida State, despite their struggles, went undefeated in a power 5 conference and would have been the default second team. And they told us a playoff system wasn’t necessary.
- The Big Ten was, at one point, the most overrated conference in football. Remember when people thought it should be an OSU-Michigan rematch for the national title? However, just because they used to be overrated, that doesn’t mean they should be disrespected the way they were in 2014. Anyone who actually watched a good dose of Big Ten games would see that.
- Random, but thank goodness Michigan took a step toward turning around their program. The Big Ten needs them to be good again.
- If you think you have college football figured out, you’re wrong.
- Did anyone see the look on Urban’s face when Mark May started talking?
- Take out the name “Ohio State” and you’ll appreciate the narrative of this team too. Name another team that could compete after losing one Heisman candidate quarterback, let alone two of them.
Last, but certainly not least: Oregon is a GREAT football team. They have been a dominant force all season long, and the national championship is going to be one great game to watch. And guess who has earned the right to come out of the other tunnel… O-H!