The College Football Playoff selection committee could be faced with a very tricky situation.
Ohio State will likely hold the No. 2 ranking in the College Football Playoff rankings when the new batch is released Tuesday thanks to the current Nos. 2, 3 and 4 teams all losing this past weekend. The Buckeyes, which have won their last two games by identical 62-3 scores, could finish the regular season with an 11-1 record that includes wins over Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Michigan.
But all that could happen and they could still not even have a chance to play for a Big Ten championship. That's thanks to Ohio State's loss at Penn State last month, one that gave the Nittany Lions the head-to-head tiebreaker. The two teams currently have matching 6-1 conference records, so if both teams win their final two regular-season games, it's Penn State that's heading to Indy for the conference-title game.
That begs the question, if a one-loss Ohio State team isn't holding a Big Ten championship, can it still make the Playoff? Through two seasons, the selection committee has awarded the eight Playoff spots exclusively to conference champions. So if the Buckeyes have one loss but no trophy, a fierce debate will rage.
One guy who will be advocating for Ohio State's inclusion in the final four — with or without a league title — is Buckeyes quarterback J.T. Barrett.
"I see it like this: If we win out all our games, Big Ten championship or not, you're not going to put us in? Like you're going to leave Ohio State out?" Barrett said, his quotes published by Cleveland.com. "That's how I see it. That doesn't make sense to me.
"With that, I know Big Ten Championships and conference championships is a major thing, but then you're talking about one of those two-loss teams and things like that. It's something totally different.
"I think if we won our games, that's the only thing we can control, the only thing we can handle. And (the Playoff) is left to somebody else, people on the committee and things like that. At the end of the day, it's one of those things of, 'We can't control that.' We control winning games, and if we do that, I feel like we've done our part."
Barrett won't be alone in suggesting that even without a Big Ten title Ohio State deserves to compete for a national championship. But whether or not that will be what happens remains to be seen. And, of course, there's still a possibility that the Buckeyes will be the East Division's representative in Indy. If Ohio State wins out (games at Michigan State and home against Michigan) and Penn State loses one of its remaining contests (games at Rutgers and home against Michigan State), the Buckeyes will play for a conference title.
But if that doesn't happen, let the lobbying begin.