COLUMBUS — Ohio State got everything it could have wanted from Championship Weekend.
The Big Ten title is secured, and the anticipated College Football Playoff bid came right along with it. The venue was moved, and the Buckeyes are headed back to the Sugar Bowl and a place where it’s made some incredible memories. And the cherry on top is a coveted rematch with Clemson, an opponent it dominated last year in a semifinal matchup before the win was snatched away.
After a wicked, twisted road back to the playoff, the field was officially set on Sunday: Ohio State will be the No. 3 seed against second-ranked Clemson in New Orleans in the Sugar Bowl.
“This game was a microcosm of what these kids have been through this season,” Buckeyes coach Ryan Day said after the 22-10 win over Northwestern on Saturday in Indianapolis. “They’ve been through adversity. They’ve been through a lot. And I just think that this team is gritty and they’re tough. They pull for each other. There have been games where the offense has played really good and the defense has just been OK. Now this game was kind of vice versa, a little bit.
“I tell you what, this is one of my favorite teams that I have ever been around. And maybe not because of what’s going on all the time on the field, but more importantly that this team is so tough. They’ve been through so much, and they just don’t flinch. And I cannot give this team enough credit. And I’ll say this, if we had to play one game against anybody in the country, I’ll take the Ohio State Buckeyes.”
Those Buckeyes appeared to be the best team on the field the last time the powerhouse programs in the Fiesta Bowl before a flood of unusual plays and inept officiating wound up opening the door for a Clemson comeback.
It’s no secret that bitter taste has lingered in the mouth of Ohio State since the moment its national-title pursuit ended with a miscommunication and interception in the end zone late in the fourth quarter. The Buckeyes surely want the trophy more than revenge, but the shot at both is pretty much the ideal outcome for them.
Ohio State got exactly what it wanted for the College Football Playoff.