Utah Packs Up USC to Claim Pac 12 Title, Likely Sending Ohio State to the Playoff — The 12 Team Playoff Fixes Every Problem We Have in CFB Right Now

So Utah has done it. After falling behind 17-3 and looking like they were going to get blown out, they went on a 44-7 run to lock up the Pac 12 Championship for a second straight year. I think Caleb Williams got hurt early on (the long run he had) and he was never the same after that. USC’s offense ground to a halt.

So USC is now likely out of the playoff, and Ohio State is likely in, even after getting clowned by Michigan at home.

There are people who are extremely mad online about the fact that Ohio State is going to back in, and I get why. I mean they just got embarrassed by Michigan, are not playing a game this week, and are going to get in to the playoff just because a team ahead of them lost. It’s kind of bullshit.

But then again, should two loss non-conference Champion USC get in to the playoff over one loss non-conference champion Ohio State? Why should that be the case? Just because USC got to their conference championship game and Ohio State didn’t?

That’s also not a very strong argument. Ohio State and USC both went 8-1 in conference play.

USC was able to make it to their conference championship game because they play in the Pac 12, which doesn’t have divisions, while Ohio State missed out on theirs because the only team in the Big Ten that finished with a stronger conference record than they did happened to be in their own division.

Michigan is about to play Purdue tomorrow. Purdue is 6-3 in Big Ten play. The only reason Purdue is in the Big Ten Championship game is because their campus is located about 15 miles west of Bloomington, Indiana. If Purdue was instead 15 miles east of Bloomington, Indiana, then it would be Indiana in the Big Ten West and Purdue in the Big Ten East, and Purdue would have been eliminated from the Big Ten Championship hunt weeks ago.

No, if Ohio State played in a conference like the Pac 12, where the conference championship game participants are simply the teams with the two best conference records, then Ohio State would have been in the Big Ten Championship game.

And here’s another thing to consider: what if Ohio State had the exact same resume except they played Michigan on October 29 and played Penn State last week. So they lost to Michigan at home, 45-23, on October 29, and then last week closed out their season with a 44-31 road win over a ranked Penn State squad.

Would people be so upset about Ohio State backing in to the playoff then?

No, I don’t think so.

They’re only mad about Ohio State losing because of WHEN Ohio State lost, which was the last game of the regular season. There’s still a bad taste in everyone’s mouth regarding Ohio State because they’re barely a week away from getting clowned.

But if they had lost in late October, and then won out and finished strong, people would be saying, “Give them a chance at Michigan again! They deserve a rematch! They’re a much better team now!”

See, USC lost to Utah for the first time on October 15. Then they won the rest of their games, got to the Pac 12 Championship for a rematch with Utah, and lost again. But what if USC had played Utah for the first time last week, lost the game, and then lost again in the Pac 12 Championship one week later?

Would anybody be feeling sorry for USC or saying they still deserve to be in over Ohio State just because USC made it to their conference championship game? Absolutely not.

And that’s the flaw in this whole college football process. We’re applying these ridiculous and sadistic standards to these two teams even though the reality is, they both should be in the playoff. But we have to be deranged about the whole thing because there’s only four stupid spots.

We’re bashing a team that is in reality deserving of a shot at the National Championship just because of the fact that they’re going to get a playoff spot “the wrong way.”

Well, what if the whole system is wrong? That’s the real problem.

An 11-1 Ohio State team with quality wins over Penn State and Notre Dame should not be excluded from the playoff because they lost one game to the #2 team in the country. I don’t care if it was an ugly loss, name me another team out there that has only lost ONE single game this season (obviously excluding the three undefeated teams). Go ahead. Name one.

You can’t, because there are no other teams out there with only one loss. Ohio State has the 4th best record in the country.

They are the ONLY one-loss team in the FBS right now.

And people are really trying to argue that they shouldn’t be in the playoff.

That’s what this stupid 4-team playoff model has done to people’s brains.

In the NFL, they don’t give a shit when you lose, it just matters how many times you’ve lost.

In no other sport but college football does the timing of a regular season loss matter more than the number of games you have actually lost.

I saw arguably the most ridiculous take on Twitter by Danny Kanell:

What are you even talking about, my guy?

What do you mean “don’t deserve them”?

He even admits that Ohio State is a legitimate threat to win the whole thing.

And yet he doesn’t feel like Ohio State “deserves” a chance to win the whole thing.

Is that not the most deranged logic you’ve ever seen when it comes to college football?

If Ohio State wins a National Championship beating Georgia and Michigan in the process, they would have clearly deserved to be in the playoff. OBVIOUSLY.

But Danny Kanell would be mad about the way Ohio State got in, rather than the fact that college football is structured in a way so that a legitimate national championship contender team had to “back in” to the playoff and hope for teams ahead of them to lose.

See, this is the issue with college football: this distinction between “best” and “most deserving.”

There are a bunch of people out there who spend the entire college football season rooting for teams like Bama, Georgia and Ohio State to lose one game, because the way the system is set up, losing one single game can derail your entire season and knock you out of the Championship picture.

These people are really just rooting for Bama, Georgia and Ohio State to not get a chance at winning a championship, even if they freely admit–like Danny Kanell did–that those teams are clearly capable of winning a national championship.

They want teams that are capable of winning national championships deprived of the opportunity because that is the system they have become accustomed to over the years. The BCS was even more unfair than the CFP.

They are literally cheering for injustice and unfairness.

I get that they’re sick of seeing the same blue blood programs win all the time. I’m with ya there. I would love more parity in this sport, but parity as a result of unfairness and injustice is not the way to do it.

This is what I was talking about in my previous article: the BCS had parity in terms of how many teams won the National Championship, but only because it had such little margin for error in requiring you to be ranked inside the top-2 to play for a natty, that it was basically a luck-based system. Because it takes more than just talent and great coaching to be ranked inside the top-2 in the nation: it takes a little bit of luck, too.

In the BCS system, a great team would finish with one extremely close loss, on the road, and never get a chance to play for the National Championship game (2006 Michigan: went 11-0, lost in the last game of the season to #1 Ohio State on the road by a score of 42-39, and didn’t get a chance to play for a National Championship. That’s what I mean by the BCS system being insanely unforgiving, unjust and honestly luck-based to a large extent).

That is essentially what Danny Kanell wants here. That’s the mindset he’s in where he’s saying Ohio State, even though he admits they have a legit chance to win a National Championship, shouldn’t get the chance to do so because they “don’t deserve the chance.” That’s the BCS mindset where one slip-up means the end of your season, and it totally disqualifies and nullifies everything you did that season.

It’s like people are kind of rooting for teams to be eliminated on technicalities, not for legitimate reasons.

What Danny Kanell really wants is just for Ohio State to not get a chance at winning a national championship, for whatever reason. He probably just hates them because it’s college football and that’s how it goes: there’s a lot of hatred for other programs out there. It’s totally fine, it’s what makes the sport so awesome. I hate plenty of programs out there.

But it has really gotten to a point out there where we want these programs we hate to be eliminated just because of one loss. We just want to see them eliminated from championship contention by any means possible.

I do it myself. I don’t hate Alabama, but I’m sick of them and I don’t want to see them win a National Championship this year, so I was rooting for them to lose to teams like Tennessee and LSU, because I wanted to see Alabama get eliminated. I wasn’t rooting for Tennessee in that game (even though I thought I was). I was really just rooting against Alabama. Same with the LSU game.

And guess what? Last weekend, I was cheering on Texas A&M as they beat down on LSU and eliminated LSU from the playoff hunt. Even though a few weeks earlier I was rooting like crazy for LSU to beat Alabama. I did a complete 180 on LSU.

In actuality, I kinda hate Texas A&M. I think they’re weird and culty. The Midnight Yell is corny as fuck. I actually like LSU, personally. If those two programs were facing off in the National Championship game, I would be rooting for LSU. But I was rooting for Texas A&M to beat LSU last weekend because I’m just in that silly college football mindset where I’m rooting for all the highly ranked teams to lose and be toppled and get eliminated.

It is honestly such a dumb way of looking at sports.

The Vikings just lost to the Cowboys a couple weeks ago. The score was 40-3 and it was in the Vikings home stadium.

That loss hasn’t completely discredited the Vikings and ended their season, has it? They’re still alive for the playoffs, they’re still alive for the Super Bowl. Nobody’s flipping out and acting like they shouldn’t be allowed to take the field again. Nobody’s saying that loss should be the end of their season.

And that’s the way it should be. They had a bad game. It happens sometimes. It’s incredibly difficult to bring your A-game every single week in football. There’s only been one team in the Super Bowl era to go undefeated, after all.

It’s okay to lose a few games in the NFL. Because it’s about your overall body of work–your record, and whether or not you win your division. They don’t just focus on your losses in the NFL.

In college football, there’s this mindset where if a good team loses a game, that proves they suck or they got exposed or something. We act like it should be the end of their season.

I mean, if Ohio State had lost by 20+ points to Indiana or something, then I could see wanting them to be excluded from the playoff, because that’s some pathetic shit. But they lost to a good team, and that’s what happens when good teams play against each other: somebody loses the game.

The dumbass way that college football is structured is we look at an 11-1 team that lost its last game of the season and go, “They freaking suck.”

No, they don’t suck.

In the NFL, you know how you know if a team sucks? If their record is 4-13 at the end of the year.

That’s how you can tell if a team is undeserving of a shot to play for a Championship–if they have a shitty record.

The reality is that Ohio State, even before the Michigan game, had already earned the right to play for a National Championship. They won 11 games. That’s better than like 97% of the teams in the country.

But college football’s postseason has us in this mindset where a team can go 11-1 and we still think they’re not deserving of a chance to play for the National Championship because they lost their last game of the regular season. It’s unbelievably dumb.

I get that people don’t like the way Ohio State is getting in to the playoff. I don’t like it either.

But what people are really mad about is the 4 team playoff system, which gets us into this mindset that an 11-1 team is somehow undeserving of making the playoff. We invent all these ridiculous reasons that supposedly prove why that 11-1 team is “undeserving,” like “They didn’t even make it to their conference championship game!”

And of course the reason Ohio State didn’t make it to their conference championship is purely arbitrary. They drew a line through the middle of the Big Ten conference and said if you’re the best of all the teams on the west side of the line, you get into the conference title game, and ditto for the best team east of the arbitrary line.

What if they had drawn the line horizontally across the Big Ten instead of vertically? What if the Big Ten was split into North and South divisions instead of East and West:

If the Big Ten were split into North and South divisions, then we wouldn’t even be having this conversation at all. Purdue would not be in the Big Ten Championship game, Ohio State would be.

It just so happens that about 10 years ago, when they were deciding on how to divide up the Big Ten into divisions, they chose to do it by East and West rather than North and South. Completely arbitrary.

My Twitter timeline right now is full of people angry as hell at Ohio State for supposedly taking USC’s spot in the playoff, when in reality what they’re actually mad about is the fundamental way the playoff system works.

USC got screwed, too. They won 11 games. They should be in the playoff. 11 games should be good enough to get you in no matter what. USC lost by a single point to Utah in Utah earlier in the season, and then in the Pac 12 Championship game, USC lost in large part because Caleb Williams got hurt late in that game (and because they have a terrible defense, but I think they could’ve won that game in a shootout if Caleb hadn’t gotten injured).

But Ohio State didn’t screw over USC. This is not Ohio State’s fault.

It’s the many nameless, faceless people–at the TV networks, in the boardrooms of conference headquarters around the country, atop the athletic departments of the big time programs, etc.–who are in charge of college football that are to blame here.

Because the system they gave us for determining a champion is a joke.

How do you have 5 “Power” conferences and only 4 playoff spots?

In a more just and fair system–the 12-team playoff–USC would still get in to the playoff, because they won 11 games, beating good teams like UCLA, Notre Dame and Oregon State in the process.

Utah got screwed, too. They should be in the playoff. They won their conference, they should get a spot in the playoff automatically. I don’t care if they have three losses. They’re a damn good team. They basically won that game just to spoil USC’s season. Kyle Whittingham acknowledged it after the game. He was being interviewed and he said, “Coach Day, you’re welcome.” He was certainly happy to win the conference, but he understood immediately that the main beneficiary of his team’s win was some other team halfway across the country.

And that’s just dumb that we have this sport set up that way. There should actually be a reward for them for winning that game.

I am so glad we’re going to a 12-team playoff with automatic bids for conference champions in 2024. I feel bad for Utah right now though. It’s such bullshit that they won that game and the Pac 12 conference and don’t get anything for it.

The fundamental dilemma is that a three-loss team should absolutely not be included in a 4-team playoff field, but at the same time Utah deserves a chance to play for a National Championship after winning 10 games and winning their conference, beating USC twice in the process.

The problem is the 4-team playoff model.

We should just move to the 12-team model right now, honestly. Screw waiting til 2024.

Why can’t it be done right now? We can’t in the next two weeks figure out how to hold four postseason games on campuses?

And then the quarterfinal games, those would all be played at New Years Six Bowl sites. Those bowl games are going to happen anyway, just make them all playoff games.

The semifinal and National Championship will be the exact same as it would’ve been under a 4-team playoff, only the teams playing in the semifinal will be the teams that won in the four quarterfinal games. Simple as that.

The only thing preventing the 12-team playoff from happening right now, this season, are stupid contracts and TV rights deals. But I guarantee you if they just put the rights to broadcast these playoff games out on the open market, up for auction, they’d fetch many millions and millions of dollars.

It’s these stupid TV contracts and rights deals that are preventing us from having the 12-team playoff right now.

It could absolutely be done. After the final CFP rankings are revealed on Sunday, you just schedule the games. Georgia, Michigan and TCU (assuming they all win) get byes, along with presumably Ohio State. Then you tell #12 they’re going to play at #5; #11 will travel to play #6; #10 will travel to play #7; and #9 will be on the road at #8.

Easy as that. We can’t figure out the logistics of four on-campus football games in December? We can’t book flights for these teams to go cross country?

After the on-campus first round games are played, you just tell the 5 vs. 12 winner they’re playing in the Orange Bowl against the #4 seed, the 6 vs. 11 winner will play in the Cotton Bowl against the #3 seed, the 7 vs. 10 winner will be in the Rose Bowl against the #2 seed, and the 8 vs. 9 winner will play in the Sugar Bowl against #1.

It’s not like it would be hard for these bowl games to prepare. They already know they’re going to be hosting two teams a month or so from now. And they’d know on Sunday one of the two teams that will be playing in their bowl game–like for example the Sugar Bowl, based on the graphic above, would know that the game will be Georgia facing either Penn State or Clemson. So they’d have plenty of time to prepare and decorate and paint the field and all that stuff.

And then, again, the final four would just be played as normal.

There’s no real, logistical reason this couldn’t happen this season. It’s not like it is impossible to book travel arrangements for four college football teams on two weeks’ notice.

The NFL just relocated a game from Buffalo to Detroit on like 3 days notice two weeks ago. The Browns and Bills were supposed to play in Buffalo, but then a big snowstorm hit Buffalo. So they moved the game to Detroit on like 72 hours notice.

It all went off without a hitch. It was fine. They had fans in the stands and everything.

That’s the power of the NFL, which is obviously way more centralized and unified than college football. The NFL doesn’t have to worry about one TV network having the rights to games played in a particular stadium, or about the fact that each conference has a different TV partner.

Earlier this year, when Covid was still going on in California, that the NFL had a contingency plan for moving the Super Bowl out of SoFi Stadium on short notice. If Covid and the restrictions got bad enough, they had a plan to move the freaking Super Bowl to Miami or Dallas or somewhere else on like two or three weeks notice.

The Super Bowl! The NFL has the ability, if necessary, to switch Super Bowl venues in under a month.

So I don’t want to hear a damn thing about how “logistics” mean we have to wait another two years to get the 12-team playoff. That is such a crock.

“But the TV contracts!” If all the involved parties want, they can rip those contracts up tomorrow.

I love college football so much. But damn is it archaic and dinosauric. We should have that 12-team playoff now.

I’m sitting here watching this TCU vs. K-State Big 12 Championship, and the energy is awesome, it feels like a big time game, both teams are playing their hearts out. But could you imagine how much better it would be if the winner got a playoff spot? If K-State actually had something to play for besides spoiler?

I just think about the rest of the conference championship games left today: SEC, Big Ten and ACC, and I’m like, “Meh.”

What’s really at stake in the SEC Championship game? If Georgia loses, they fall down to like the 3 or 4 seed? They’re not going to leave Georgia out if they lose to LSU, even if they lose by 50. Because then you could just say, “Well Georgia had nothing to play for in that game, they didn’t care about it.” And that would be true, too.

And if LSU wins, what do they get? They go to the Sugar Bowl. Who cares about that? LSU up until a week ago was thinking about the playoffs; the Sugar Bowl would be a letdown for them. It’s all very low-stakes.

What’s at stake in the ACC Championship game? A spot in the Orange Bowl where half the players will opt out anyway?

The only thing at stake in the Big Ten Championship is Michigan’s playoff seeding. Even if they lose to Purdue, they’re not getting knocked out of the playoff. Now, I guess it’s important for Purdue that they could make it to the Rose Bowl if they win. That’s actually a big deal for Purdue. They haven’t played in the Rose Bowl since 2001, when Drew Brees was their quarterback.

And Purdue hasn’t won the Rose Bowl since 1967. That’s it: that’s the only time they’ve ever won the Rose Bowl, in fact 1967 and 2001 are the only two Rose Bowl appearances Purdue has ever had. So I guess it is a big deal for them if they are able to win.

But it would be an even bigger deal if they could win and get into the playoff.

Okay, now that we know Ohio State is probably in, what are their chances here?

I think it all hinges on the health of their skill position players. If Jaxon Smith-Njigba comes back, they are a completely different offense. He makes them so much more dangerous and difficult to defend.

Same thing with their running back Treyveon Henderson: he’s been banged up all season. If he gets healthy–and he hasn’t played a game since November 19, so he will have about 5 weeks to heal up come the playoff game–then that’s huge for them. He’s not been great this year, but that’s mostly because he’s been hurt. He’s an explosive, home run hitting back.

Miyan Williams, the other running back, got banged up in the Maryland game and only had like 3 carries or something against Michigan. He’s a massively important player.

Ohio State’s starting right guard, Matthew Jones, got injured before the Michigan game and didn’t play. He is a major, integral part of their offensive line and he hasn’t really been healthy all season long. They could have him back as well.

JSN hasn’t played since October 22, the Iowa game. So he’s been out now over 6 weeks with that hamstring injury. It will be close to 10 weeks by the time the playoff starts.

I don’t know if he’s just shutting it down for the entire season and he’s not going to come back even if he is fully healthy, though. That’s a very real possibility.

He hasn’t left the team, though. He was there on the sidelines for the Michigan game, just in street clothes. His dad said earlier this year that his son would be back at some point. But initially he said he’d be back for the Michigan game, and that didn’t happen, so I don’t know. They may have just shut him down for good.

But if he plays, and he is even close to his 2021 self, that is massive. He’s the best receiver in college football, probably. The only competition is his teammate Marvin Harrison Jr.

Corum is out for the year for Michigan, but don’t get it twisted: Donovan Edwards is the better running back. I know, I know, Corum gets all the love and all the hype, but Edwards is way more explosive and dangerous for opposing teams. After Michigan ran for 418 on Penn State, I said it was the Michigan offensive line that deserved most of the credit, not the running backs. That was the game that vaulted Corum into the Heisman discussion, but if you go back and look at the box score, Donovan Edwards had more yards than Corum did on fewer carries. Edwards is the home run hitter. Edwards had those two long TD runs at the end against Ohio State; I don’t know if Corum houses those two runs honestly. He’s not as fast as Edwards is.

However, Corum is really good between the tackles and really carrying the load. I don’t think you can give Edwards 25-30 carries a game consistently. He had 22 against Ohio State and I feel like that’s about as much as you can give him. Of course, Corum getting 25-30 carries a game is exactly why he’s now out for the season with a knee injury–and also, Michigan only needs 3 more big games out of Edwards. They don’t need him to tote the rock 25-30 times a game for 10 straight games. They’re in a sprint right now, it’s not a marathon.

Certainly losing Corum is a big blow. The more I think about it, it really is, even though I do still maintain that Edwards is more explosive and dangerous. Without Corum, they could not run the ball against Ohio State until the very end of that game when Edwards busted off two runs for 75 and 85 yards each. Dude had 216 yards in that game and 160 came on two runs late in the fourth quarter. Take those away and it’s 20 carries for 56 yards.

So that is a real issue for Michigan, that they don’t have their grinder running back. It puts more of the onus on JJ McCarthy’s arm, and you do not want that to be how the game is decided. Are you really going to be able to count again on four busted coverages by the Ohio State secondary that lead to three touchdowns and a field goal? I’m pretty sure Ohio State is going to be more buttoned-up in the secondary next time.

If there is indeed a rematch with Michigan, Ryan Day had better win it.

Michigan planted their flag on your 50 yard line, dude. They’ve been talking shit like they never have to see you again. They think you are dead and buried.

If you have any sort of pride or manhood at all, you would absolutely stomp those boys.

If Ryan Day and those boys don’t win that game, don’t even bother going back to Columbus. Ryan Day would probably resign on the spot, and if not, he’d be fired. All those players have to transfer.

They have to win that game.

But I just don’t know. My fear is that Ryan Day is Downy soft down to the core of his heart and soul. My fear is that if you put that man under an x-ray, you would see that there is zero dawg in him. You’d see nothing but teddy bears, fabric softener, memory foam and quadruple ply toilet paper. That’s what I’m worried about. I think he’s afraid to yell at his players and coach them hard. Afraid to take risks in big games. That’s what I’m worried about: that Ohio State’s problems are structural, that they are a team with no fight-back, because of their head coach. That when the going gets tough in a big game against a big time opponent, they quit. They don’t want the fight. They crack, they crumble in the face of adversity.

That’s why I initially felt like it would just be best for Ohio State to miss the playoff this year, retool and reconfigure in the offseason (i.e. Ryan Day gives up playcalling), and take a crack at it next year. My gut feeling is that this Ohio State team, if they got to the playoff, would fuck around and lose to Michigan in the National Championship game and set the Ohio State football program back 75 years.

You don’t come back from that. You lose to Michigan in the National Championship game, after they already beat you and planted their flag in your house? There’s no coming back from that. That is a shame and embarrassment that takes generations to get past.

Okay, I’m getting ahead of myself here.

Ohio State is likely to have to play Georgia in the semifinal anyway, and that’s a tougher game than Michigan.

I will wait to really break down these games any further until the playoff field is set tomorrow. Because right now TCU is locked in a 7-7 game against K-State, and the line on this game moved hard towards K-State this morning, so that means Vegas thinks there’s a real chance they could win. I think K-State may have even closed as a slight favorite in this game.

So if K-State wins, then that opens the door to Bama possibly sneaking into the playoff. If people are pissed about Ohio State backing in, then they will really be pissed about two-loss Alabama making it.

We’ll just have to wait and see here.

But the bottom line is that we need the 12-team playoff now. The current system is broken beyond hope.

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