On November 11, 2007, the #1 Ohio State Buckeyes suffered a shocking loss at home to unranked Illinois. They plunged to #7 in the polls, and with only one regular season game left, and in a system where only the top two teams made the title game, their championship hopes seemed dead. They needed an incredibly unlikely series of insane upsets to even have a chance.
Exactly 10 years later to the day, the 2017 Buckeyes took the field against Michigan State in a very similar situation. Coming off a shocking loss to unranked Iowa, they sat at #13 in the playoff rankings with only two regular season games left. Even with a four-team playoff field, they looked like a real longshot. Their national title odds dropped to 80-to-1.
Then something funny happened. The Buckeyes put #12 Michigan State in a blender and pushed “liquefy” for three hours. #9 Washington had already lost the night before. Auburn destroyed #1 Georgia. Miami blasted #3 Notre Dame. Oklahoma smoked #6 TCU. All of a sudden, instead of needing to leap-frog a nearly-impossible nine teams to get into the playoff, they’ll enter next week likely needing to jump a more reasonable number like five.
Two of them will play in the Iron Bowl. Two more will play in the SEC title game. Two more in the ACC title game. OSU should have a shot at one in the Big Ten title game. That’s four who are guaranteed to have a loss if the Buckeyes win out. Ohio State’s national title odds now stand somewhere around 12-to-1.
One week after OSU was humiliated by the Hawkeyes, they were… somehow… legitimately back in the playoff picture. Viva chaos! Viva college football!
There is still work to do. OSU must take care of business against Illinois and Michigan, and then knock off Wisconsin to win the Big Ten. It wouldn’t hurt if Alabama beat Auburn and Georgia and definitively knocked both of them out of the playoff picture. Go ahead and fashion a homemade turnover chain, because you’re hoping Miami takes out Clemson in the ACC title game as well. Even if all of that happens, there are no guarantees that OSU lands in the final top 4.
But 10 years after the Buckeyes were crossing their fingers and hoping a 4-7 Pitt team could upset #2 West Virginia in Morgantown, possibly needing help from someone like Alabama this month doesn’t seem like too much of a reach.
With two regular season games and conference title game weekend on deck, where could the Buckeyes end up playing in the postseason? Here’s a look at a variety of updated projects. ESPN has two different projections, so they are listed twice.
Sporting News: Cotton Bowl vs. Notre Dame
CBS Sports: Citrus Bowl vs. Mississippi State
ESPN: Orange Bowl vs. Clemson
ESPN: Fiesta Bowl vs. USC
SI.com: Peach Bowl vs. UCF