The 2019 Ohio State Buckeyes might just be unbeatable
Of the 32 possible permutations for the results of this weekend’s five college football conference championship games that truly matter, there are a handful that would provide a neat and tidy outcome.
If Ohio State, LSU, Clemson and Oklahoma all win, especially coupled with a Utah defeat against Oregon, the playoff committee can relax and look forward to a quick chat followed by sipping cocktails at the poolside of their luxury resort.
Any other combination — anything from a couple of mild upsets all the way to outright chaos — and the discussions at the Gaylord Texan Resort in Grapevine are going to be fraught and frenetic, tinged with the certainty that heartbreak will touch at least one program on the shoulder by the time it’s all done.
Yet as it prepares to enter its Big Ten title showdown against Wisconsin (FOX, 8 p.m. ET), Ohio State is the one contender immune to the cruel grasp of a late-season falter that wipes out all the good work that came before it.
A defeat certainly dooms Georgia, Oklahoma, Baylor or Utah. Losing probably sinks defending national champion and still undefeated Clemson. And, given a gnarly combination of outcomes, a Saturday setback could leave LSU on the outside, too.
Ohio State, however, have made themselves bulletproof; their body of work and level of performance under Ryan Day so strong, their resume of victories so powerful, that they’re essentially voided from the chatter.
Even with a loss, Ohio State has done enough to clinch its place in the top four. As for the likelihood of such a result, if you’re expecting it, you’re seeing something everyone else is missing.
According to FOX Bet, the top-ranked Buckeyes are a resounding +475 favorite to repeat their 38-7 mauling of No. 8 Wisconsin on Oct. 26 — favored to win by 16 points this time around. Don’t expect them to be taking things lightly, however, says former head coach and FOX college football analyst Urban Meyer.
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“I can promise you the amount of respect (for Wisconsin) is immense in the locker room and offices at Ohio State,” Meyer told the Big Ten Network. “(But) what can they do?
“(Wisconsin) have to play darn-near-perfect football, which they’re capable of doing. They can’t turn the ball over one time. Can’t do it. They can’t give away free yardage. That means a bad snap or a stupid sack — just the things that happen. They can’t do that.
“And they obviously have to execute very well. I know that sounds simple, but I’ve been in those types of game, and the type of mentality and focus your team has to have to win a game like this … I don’t know if they have the horses.”
The closest anyone got to Ohio State this season was when Penn State held them to 28-17 … and in truth, even that one wasn’t particularly close. They have crushed everyone, ranked opponents and easy fodder alike, culminating in last week’s 56-27 beatdown of Michigan in the Big Game.
It has been dominant enough that people are starting already to begin the discussion as to where they might fit among the all-time great teams in college football history.
“They re an extremely balanced team,” FOX analyst and college football Hall of Famer Matt Leinart said. “Offensively, they can beat you running the ball or throwing, and Justin Fields’ ability to run makes it tougher. Defensively, they have the best player up front in the country (Chase Young) who makes the whole side go.”
The Buckeyes have stars, but their collectivity and organization on the field is at stratospheric levels. They are ranked at the top for a reason and they have backed it up every step of the way. Instead of pressure breathing on their neck, it is the possible call of immortality.
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) December 6, 2019
“If this Ohio State team goes 15-0 and wins the national championship, they will be an all-time top five college football team,” FOX college football expert Joel Klatt told The Herd on FS1. “To be historically considered one of the best teams of all time, you’ve got to have played great opponents.
“You can’t just be like, ‘We won a lot of games.’ Yeah, everyone wins a lot of games in college football. You’ve got to beat really quality opponents. You’ve got to dominate those guys. It’s going to matter how many guys are drafted off of that team.”
In terms of beating up on opponents and the draft stock of their roster, Ohio State have both boxes ticked. They have thumped 11 of their 12 opponents by 24 or more points, with an average winning margin on the season of 38.1 per game.
The personnel is scary. Young had two games off due to a suspension for an NCAA rules violation, but is still one of the leading contenders for the Heisman Trophy thanks to his marauding defensive prowess.
Fields is currently seen as being the second-best quarterback in the 2021 class, while cornerback Jeff Okudah has a shot at being a top 10 pick, and running back J.K. Dobbins likely has a bright pro future.
That’s all just part of what Wisconsin is up against. Wisconsin knows what’s up.
“(Ohio State) can do everything really well,” senior linebacker Chris Orr told reporters. “They have good players in the right positions.”
It seems all set up for Ohio State to continue its march, but best-laid plans have faltered before. Teams supposedly headed for destiny have crashed, stumbled or been out-thought. That’s the best thing about early December in college football: the most anyone has is hope and promise.
But the Buckeyes have the opportunity to secure greatness for themselves and it’s a clearer chance than most. The journey starts here.
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) December 5, 2019