COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Unless something really strange happens over the last two weeks of the season, the second College Football Playoff will crown a new champion.
Ohio State had its 23-game winning streak snapped on a last-second field goal by Michigan State, putting the Spartans on the road to the Big Ten championship game and leaving the Buckeyes with only pride to play for next week at Michigan.
Even Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer was not talking playoffs after his first regular-season loss to a Big Ten team in his four years at Ohio State.
“No disrespect, but that’s certainly not any conversation — you’re right, a lot of things happen, but we’ve got to fix some obvious problems,” Meyer said.
The Buckeyes had been third in the last playoff ranking.
Who will take their spot on Tuesday?
It might be unbeaten Iowa (11-0). The Hawkeyes, who clinched the Big Ten West, were ranked fifth last week. Only Nebraska stands between them and the conference title game, and as an undefeated team, they have a playoff spot right in their grasp.
Michigan State might not crack the top four this week, but the Spartans (10-1) have to like where they stand. The Spartans already have wins against Oregon — maybe the best team in the Pac-12 over the last month of the season — Michigan and now Ohio State. Add Iowa to that resume and the Spartans would have to get strong consideration.
Even with the Buckeyes out of the mix, the Big Ten championship looks like it could be the only de facto playoff quarterfinal of all the conference title games. Win and go on to the playoff.
The Southeastern Conference could have that, too, though SEC East champion Florida doesn’t look like a team capable of beating Alabama, if that’s the matchup in Atlanta two weeks from now.
The Gators beat Florida Atlantic 20-14 in overtime. They play Florida State next week, and if they lose that, there is a good chance that the best they can do in the title game is knock the SEC out of the playoff picture entirely.