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Buckeyes CFP chances shouldn’t hinge on Big Ten title game

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Ohio State doesn't need the Big Ten title game to make the College Football Playoff, but it wouldn't hurt the Buckeyes chances. (Courtesy/Ohio State Dept. of Athletics)

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Buckeyes CFP chances shouldn’t hinge on Big Ten title game

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One of the goals that is plastered on the walls inside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center probably could go without being on numerous walls: win the Big Ten championship.

And there are certainly reminders of that everywhere. But the only pictures that are hung in the Buckeyes team room are of the national title-winning teams.

Simply put, the Big Ten title is important, but it’s not the most important goal on the Buckeyes schedule this season. And that Big Ten title game is an added bonus, not a necessity for entrance into the College Football Playoff.

Now, if the Buckeyes go undefeated and play six or more games, they’ll play for the Big Ten championship on Dec. 19, adding another game to their resume. But if two more Ohio State games are canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Buckeyes will be under the six-game threshold to qualify for that title game.

Then it becomes up to the College Football Playoff committee, and while it’s never safe to assume what the 13 suits in Grapevine, Texas, are going to be thinking, an undefeated Ohio State team would be hard to leave on the sideline in favor of a one-loss team from a different conference.

There’s always the weird scenarios. What if Notre Dame and Clemson both have one loss to each other? What if Florida runs the table and beats Alabama, giving them both one loss? Can the PAC-12 work its way into the conversation?

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Ohio State coach Ryan Day is focused on keeping the Buckeyes routine. (Matthew OHaren/USA TODAY Sports)

Ohio State can’t control any of those circumstances. The only thing the Buckeyes can do is worry about themselves and keep winning.

“What we have to do is keep our routine,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said. “In a season that has been nothing like we’re used to, we need to keep our routine the best we can. … We don’t have a game plan ready to go for Indiana, but at least we’ll get a head start on that. We’ll have a good practice on Saturday and try to keep it as much routine as possible. When you keep changing routine on coaches and players and staff members, it wears you down. It’s a distraction.

“So, we’re going to try to everything we can to not do that and keep our routine the same.”

If Ohio State can keep that routine and continue to smash opponents the way it did during the first three weeks of the season, it will be right in contention for a Playoff spot. Of course, the Buckeyes know from 2016 that the Big Ten title isn’t needed to crack the field of four.

The ultimate goal for this season is to have a picture hung in the team room of the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, a national title picture. A goal before that is to win the Big Ten.

But if the Buckeyes get into the College Football Playoff without the Big Ten title game and win a national title, bypassing the Big Ten title game won’t seem too bad.

Spencer Holbrook

Spencer Holbrook covers Ohio State football and basketball for Lettermen Row. A graduate of Ohio University's Scripps School of Journalism, he's in his second year covering the Buckeyes. He was previously the sports editor at Ohio's student newspaper, The Post, where he covered Ohio University football and men's basketball.