Straight, no chaser.
Ohio State came into Michigan State’s house, sat down on the couch next to his girl, and started doing shots of whiskey with his arm around her while he sat across the room and fumed.
Welcome to the playoff race, Ohio State.
The Buckeyes wandered into East Lansing … a place where you just don’t walk in and out with your football faculties fully about themselves … and gave Sparty a 20 for cab fare and told them to leave their own place. It was (clears throat) to date, the most impressive showing to this point in the 2014 college football season.
Folks have been reticent to be willing to invite Ohio State into the party, but at this point, you can’t deny her. College football always figures itself out in the end, and the Buckeyes were just part of that journey.
Some thought Auburn was the best team in the country going into this weekend. The Tigers lost to an occasionally hapless Texas A&M team. TCU vastly outclassed Kansas State. Ditto for Arizona State over Notre Dame.
I’ll go ahead and give you the reasons Ohio State should be in the top 6 in the playoff talk come Tuesday.
1. Themselves: Blah, blah, blah, Virginia Tech. Sometimes, this crazy thing happens where teams actually get better DURING the season. Whatever spiked the Buckeyes’ drink, it happened. The team has been a mower through grass offensively outside of a slugfest with hyped-up Penn State, and the defense has come along just enough. What the OSU front seven did to Michigan State on “need downs” was impressive, the type of stuff you just don’t see happen to Sparty when you come wandering with your colors onto its block.
This wasn’t smoke and mirrors. Yes, Urban Meyer and staff emptied the liquor cabinet on Sparty at times, but for the most part, it was old school, “your fist meets my mouth” football. The OSU offensive line set the edge often, allowing big gains outside the tackles, and all night, Ohio State was more determined, physical, and full of bad intentions.
2. Everyone else: The odd thing about college football is that the “you control your own destiny” thing rarely is true. When you have a sport based on other people’s opinions, “Destiny” only exists at a Gentleman’s Club, and she charges a lot. The fact of the matter is, four teams will play for whatever college football deems as its new championship this season, and pelts are starting to be hung on the wall. Florida State and the SEC West champ seem as locks pending something unforeseen.
Of the teams ahead of Ohio State entering the weekend, these are the facts: Kansas State is out. Auburn is out. Notre Dame is out. Either Mississippi State or Alabama is likely out. One at minimum of Arizona State and Oregon are out. You still need to find four teams.
If Ole Miss is ranked ahead of the Buckeyes this week, get Mulder and Scully on the case. It’s officially unexplainable.
In the end, this was far less about Michigan State and far more about the Buckeyes. J.T. Barrett was special on Saturday night, the kind of special that you look back on years from now. Ezekiel Elliott ran special, with an ill-meaning edge Michigan State could never stop.
Ohio State got better this season when no one expected the Buckeyes to be around. Sorry, kids. The Buckeyes deserve playoff consideration, and before it’s over, playoff consideration they will get.