UCLA Re-Enters The Playoff Picture: Where would The Bruins stand against Ohio State?

UCLA has, in the eyes of some writers — such as Ted Miller of ESPN — re-entered the College Football Playoff discussion. What if the Bruins do manage to make the Pac-12 Championship Game and upend Oregon? How would UCLA compare at 11-2 to a 12-1 Ohio State team that struggled against Indiana on Saturday?

The Student Section editors tackle this question.


Question: Which team gets in the College Football Playoff as the No. 4 seed under this hypothetical pair of possibilities — 12-1 Ohio State or 11-2 UCLA?

Terry Johnson:

On Twitter @SectionTPJ

This is a very tough question to answer. Instead of sticking to the hard criteria that it’s supposed to use like strength of schedule, championships won, head-to-head matchups, and records versus common opponents, the Selection Committee is now factoring in arbitrary things like “controlling the game.” It’s also chosen to forgive certain teams for failing to get the job done late in the game (see: Alabama and Oregon), but punishing a team that always comes through in the end (Florida State).

In other words: no one knows what the Selection Committee is really going to do until it actually announces the field on December 7. Hopefully, it’ll stick to the original formula and get rid of the subjective elements like “controlling the game,” which has absolutely nothing to do with how good a team truly is. Remember, Miami dominated every facet of the game against Penn State in the 1987 Fiesta Bowl (a 445 -162 margin in total offense). However, the Nittany Lions won the game – and the national championship – by making the plays that they needed to eek out a 14-10 victory.

If that last snippet doesn’t prove how useless “control of the game” is, I don’t know what does!

Assuming that the committee uses the selection criteria that it said it would, UCLA would likely get the nod if both teams win out. Assuming that happens – and that’s not exactly a sure thing – the Bruins would have a Pac-12 title, three wins over ranked opponents (Arizona State, Arizona, and Oregon), and a better-than-advertised non-conference schedule that includes victories over Virginia (which plays well against top competition), Memphis, and Texas. The Buckeyes resume, highlighted by a Big Ten title, a win over Michigan State (which lost to Oregon), and an impressive win over Navy doesn’t quite measure up.

With that said, I wouldn’t be surprised if Ohio State got the nod over UCLA. After all, if the metric is “which team would I not rather not face,” then the Buckeyes win hands down. Urban Meyer’s squad has been virtually unstoppable since its head-scratching loss to Virginia Tech early in the year, drawing comparisons to his Tim Tebow-led Florida squad, which won a crystal football despite losing in the Swamp to Ole Miss. There’s no reason to think that this year’s edition couldn’t do the same thing, if it’s given the opportunity.

Of course, strange things tend to happen in Championship Week….


Matt Zemek:

On Twitter @SectionMZ

Is it Ohio State’s fault Virginia Tech lost to Wake Forest, 6-3, in one of the worst games ever played? No.

Is it Ohio State’s fault that Michigan just isn’t a good win this year, or that Penn State is dealing with a sanction-depleted roster, or that it happened to avoid Wisconsin and Iowa in this year’s Big Ten schedule rotation? No. (Yes, Ohio State could play the Badgers in the Big Ten Championship Game — that would help OSU in this comparison.) Nevertheless, if UCLA gets a second shot at Oregon and beats the Ducks, who handled Michigan State comfortably, the Bruins would be able to tout the best win in a comparison with Ohio State. The Buckeyes would have the worse loss. UCLA’s twin wins over Arizona and Arizona State keep looking better and better. The Pac-12 North is worse than the Big Ten West, but the Pac-12 South is a deeper division than the Big Ten East.

It’s a close call.

What I go back to in this kind of situation: a 13-0 team versus a 12-1 team is different from 12-1 versus 11-2. If the resumes are relatively equal, and they are close in OSU-UCLA, I give the 13-0 team the benefit of the doubt because it has never failed to win a game. On the other hand, there should be much more allowance for putting a two-loss team over a one-loss team if the resume difference is small but real. Oregon will probably beat UCLA, rendering this discussion moot, but if UCLA gets to San Francisco and springs the upset on Dec. 5, the Bruins would have an ever-so-slightly better resume.


NCAA Football: Ohio State at Michigan State

Bart Doan:

On Twitter: @TheCoachBart

I’m not sure what the question is. I mean, I get it, but I’m still not entirely sure. How is this a debate? At some point, we’re probably going to need to get through our preconceived notions of how things are regardless of how they turn out and go with reality.

I get that everyone thinks “Ohio State … Big Ten … no good” because we’ve been conditioned to think that anything coming out of the Midwest can’t possibly be up to snuff from now until forever because Ohio State lost to Florida in 2007 and by God, that means forever, the Big Ten can’t compete.

It’s a bunch of crap. UCLA has lost two games, and while they’re looking fine and dandy now, what do you want … the four hottest teams in college football playing for a title … or the four best?

I’m sorry, this is an absurd argument. You know what Ohio State has done? Put as many top 25 skins on the wall as Alabama and Mississippi State COMBINED.

It’s high time to forget about what happened in 2007. Ohio State can be good. The Buckeyes lost once, while trying to find themselves only a month after realizing their senior Heisman contending quarterback would be absent for the year.

UCLA has been dumped twice, once by Utah, the other by Oregon. Let’s try and be honest with ourselves here.