Ohio State, Auburn U and the CFP Two-Loss Conundrum

November 9, 2017 by Staff

The Ohio State Buckeyes' odds to the win the NCAA football national championship, according to BetNow.eu, plummeted when they lost Iowa on Saturday in what was not just an upset, but that dreaded second regular season loss that the College Football Playoff selection committee frowns upon like Johnny Depp frowns on good scripts. College football teams get one free loss but no more. Both Clemson and Alabama, the most recent winners of the CFP championship game (and even OSU, its first winner) got away with that one stumble and then went on to not just make the playoffs but actually win the national title. It might be argued that Ohio State still has what it takes to win it again this season, but we’ll never know because that second defeat, like a scarlet A, makes them undesirable company.

As it turns out, though, scarlet is the Buckeyes’ color. It is possible that they can manage to disguise that brand of shame, turn it into a red badge of courage, and make history by making the CFP as a two-loss team? Curiously, the Penn State Lions were being encouraged to move on from their loss to OSU. Now it's Ohio State's turn to ignore the College Football Playoff rankings, win their remaining games, win their division, win their conference, and then just cross their fingers and hope for the best. And if the committee is unmoved, then a bowl game is still a nice consolation price. The question is, can OSU get it together, mentally, after losing a second regular season for the first time since Urban Meyer took over the program in 2012?

The Auburn Tigers find themselves in a similar predicament as the Buckeyes, following a loss to national champions the Clemson Tigers and an upset at th0e hands of LSU, wherein Auburn wasted a 20-point lead in the first half. And if that wasn’t bad enough, Auburn’s last three regular season games include another edition of the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry against the No. 1 program in the CFP rankings, the Georgia Bulldogs, and the Iron Bowl against the AP-top ranked school, the Alabama Crimson Tide. But you know what? If life gives you melons, then make melonade. "It's a better than 50/50 shot to get in if [the Auburn Tigers] beat Georgia, beat Alabama and beat Georgia again,"ESPN analyst Booger McFarland said, "it would be hard to keep them out" of the CFP.

It's a quixotic quest, to be sure, defeating the two best teams in the country to force, one of which they would have to beat not just once but twice, and back-to-back to boot, in a potential SEC championship game. "They may need a little help," McFarland added, meaning that some one-loss, higher-ranked teams might have to lose again, "but if they win out, that would be a hell of a resume. If you look at their losses ... a come-from-behind loss to LSU on the road ... Clemson, you lose to them by eight points when you played really well. So, I think they would have a good chance."