COLUMBUS, Ohio — Miami’s loss to Pitt on Friday closed one of the doors that could have kept the Ohio State Buckeyes out of the College Football Playoff.
And there were some callbacks to Ohio State playoff possibilities of the past as it happened.
By the way, most of this is obvious. Many of you have figured this out already. But I’m paid to do some of the conjuring and scenario-crunching others don’t have time to do while living rich, fulfilling lives.
But some obvious statements are about to follow.
1. The greatest threat to Ohio State making the playoff as a two-loss Big Ten champ is a one-loss non-champ. A one-loss non-champ is what the Buckeyes were a year ago when they made the playoff as a No. 3 seed.
Entering this weekend, No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Miami were the only teams that could have been those problematic one-loss non-champs.
Scratch Miami off the list after its 24-14 loss to Pitt.
2. In a playoff math story I wrote two days ago, I used the playoff calculator at fivethirtyeight.com to look at numbers.
Here were the numbers that mattered as they related to a scenario where Miami had beaten Pitt and then lost to Clemson in the ACC Championship game, to finish with one loss.
In one scenario, Ohio State had a 51 percent chance to make the playoff and Miami a 40 percent chance.
In another, Miami had a 45 percent chance to make it and Ohio State 36 percent.
So that’s something that very well could have happened – the Buckeyes winning out and Miami beating Pitt and losing to Clemson. Ohio State still would have had a playoff shot. But according to fivethirtyeight.com, which looks at team strength and past committee behavior, the Buckeyes would have been far from assured of getting in.
So this is a good day for Ohio State.
3. The ACC was always going to get in at least one team – its conference champ. So Miami didn’t kill its playoff hopes. Beat the Tigers next week, and Miami is in. But the ACC title game loser will have two losses for sure now. Clemson might still have an outside shot to be a threat to the Buckeyes, depending on how the ACC title game goes. But it’s not likely.
Figure the ACC for one spot. It’s not impossible to get two, but it’s not expected.
4. In the updated fivethirtyeight.com calculator, Ohio State is at 73 percent to make the playoff if it beats Michigan and Wisconsin.
5. Pitt saved Ohio State again, just like 10 years ago.
As noted on the Miami-Pitt broadcast, in 2007 Pitt beat West Virginia in the last game of the regular season to swipe a title game berth away from Rich Rodriguez and the Mountaineers.
Ohio State was No. 3 and finished for the regular season when No. 2 West Virginia played Pitt to end the regular season. If No. 1 Missouri and West Viriginia had both won that weekend, that would have been the BCS National Championship. Instead, they both lost, Missouri falling to Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship and Pitt beating West Virginia 13-9 to end the regular season.
That Pitt team was 4-7 entering that game before beating No. 2.
This Pitt was 4-7 entering play Friday before beating No. 2.
6. One more wrinkle.
The Pitt coach helping the Buckeyes on Friday was Pat Narduzzi, in his third year as the head coach of the Panthers. He went 8-5 in his first two years and at 5-7 is having his first worst season.
He previously served as Michigan State’s defensive coordinator.
One of his finest moments with the Spartans was leading a defense that helped Michigan State defeat No. 2 Ohio State 34-24 in the 2013 Big Ten Championship.
That loss kept the Buckeyes out of the last BCS National Championship game.
So Narduzzi owed this to Ohio State.