Without an opportunity to play for a conference championship, Ohio State's chances at a berth in the College Football Playoff are slim.
But that doesn't mean they're non-existent.
Yes, there still might be a way for the Buckeyes to sneak into the field of four, but as you might expect, a lot of stuff — some of it rather unlikely — would need to happen.
But, for the sake of discussion, let's take a look at what would need to happen.
First off, the Buckeyes did good by showing they are still capable of looking like a championship team when they stomped Michigan on Saturday at the Big House. Ezekiel Elliott looked every bit a Heisman contender, and J.T. Barrett made everyone think, "What quarterback problems?" It was a far cry from the 132 total yards Ohio State gained against Michigan State, and that's a good thing. It should be enough, with Notre Dame losing to Stanford and Baylor losing to TCU, to boost the Buckeyes to No. 6 in the College Football Playoff rankings, putting them right outside the all-important top four.
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Now, here's where the myriad things Ohio State can't control come in.
The Big Ten champion and likely the ACC champion, regardless of who they are, will earn spots in the Playoff. Iowa and Clemson would be undefeated conference champs. Michigan State and North Carolina would be one-loss conference champs. Ohio State, though, probably needs Clemson to win the ACC title game. Why? The Buckeyes would definitely be ranked ahead of the two-loss Tar Heels should North Carolina lose. But the one-loss Tigers would probably be ranked higher than the one-loss Buckeyes were Clemson to lose the ACC title bout.
In the Big 12, one-loss champion Oklahoma is pretty much locked in, too.
So that's three of the four spots taken up.
It means Ohio State's only hope is to be ranked higher than the SEC and Pac-12 champions. If Alabama wins the SEC, that won't happen, so Buckeyes fans should be rooting for Urban Meyer's old team, Florida, to shock the Tide in the SEC title game. The Gators currently have two losses and have been extremely unimpressive in gaining most of their wins in an incredibly weak SEC East. So if Florida wins the SEC, there's still a chance the committee would be more impressed with the Buckeyes and rank them higher.
The Pac-12 is a little more cut and dry, as if Stanford loses to USC in the conference title game, the Buckeyes would surely be ranked ahead of the four-loss Trojans. Even if the Cardinal win, their ranking might not be high enough to reach the top four, and Ohio State could still be ranked ahead of Stanford if Stanford wins the Pac-12. But it would be much easier if USC staged the upset.
It's a lot of stuff that has to happen, and obviously Alabama and Stanford will be highly favored in their respective conference title games. But we've seen wackier things happen in this sport.
Ohio State benefited from championship weekend a season ago to reach the Playoff. The Buckeyes aren't playing this championship weekend, but could they benefit again?