Since its implementation in 2014, the Buckeyes have lived on the constant verge of making the College Football Playoffs.
Last year, Ohio State made it in without winning — or even playing for — their conference championship. This year, the Buckeyes went ahead and won the Big Ten, but fell short of making the playoffs.
With their 27-21 win over undefeated No. 4 Wisconsin, they thought they did exactly what they needed to do to earn the final spot in the College Football Playoffs. Instead, however, the Buckeyes’ hopes of competing for a national championship again were crushed with Sunday’s announcement, just hours after their Big Ten Championship Win.
After Ohio State defeated Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game on Saturday night, there was nothing but joy and euphoria for Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes. After a season of inconsistent performances and two disastrous losses, winning a conference title was truly a happy moment for this team.
But their joyous celebration ended 12 hours later, around 12:30 pm on Sunday, when Alabama was announced as the final team in this year’s playoffs.
“I sunk in my chair at home. Because I really thought we were in. I kind of looked at it and stared at it for a minute,” Meyer said.
There was clearly an element of surprise when the Buckeyes found out they would not be in the College Football Playoffs. As of Saturday night, they sincerely believed they would be in.
“We all thought we were in,” said linebacker Chris Worley. “I think although we had those two losses, our wins, we could match those up with any team in the nation.”
Instead the committee believed that the Crimson Tide were the better team, and the Buckeyes falling one spot short of the playoffs made it feel like they had just experienced a loss.
“You have to understand they’re not kind of disappointed. They’re probably devastated,” Meyer said.
Meyer was not wrong when it came to the feelings of Chris Worley.
“You’re definitely devastated,” the linebacker said. “Whenever you have so many guys internally, as a man, that you know that you put so much work in, you’re so invested. If you’re not devastated then you probably didn’t put the work in.
“For anyone that put in the type of work that we do throughout the whole year and not get that call, you definitely are devastated.”
The Buckeyes falling one spot short of the playoffs made it seem like they had just experienced a loss.
All of the focus on Sunday was about Ohio State not making the playoffs, rather than winning the Big Ten Championship just one night earlier.
It is easy to say the Buckeyes should be celebrating the win and focusing on the good rather than the bad, but in the minds of the players, that conference victory is what kept their hopes alive of getting a chance to compete for another national title. This expectation made it even harder for the Buckeyes to celebrate a win that they thought would lead to claiming the fourth spot in the playoffs.
As the leader of this team, however, quarterback J.T. Barrett knows that they can’t let this “loss” take away from the victory in the Big Ten Championship.
“What we experienced in the locker room, knowing what we’ve been through in the season and then go out there and accomplish one of our goals, and that’s to be the Big Ten champs, that’s something that can’t be taken away from us,” he said.
“We’ll definitely cherish that for forever.”