Is Ohio State really a contender?

Is Ohio State really a contender?

In the weeks leading up to the Selection Committee’s announcement of which four teams would compete for the Championship, most of the debate surrounded which Big 12 team deserved the fourth spot more: TCU or Baylor. However, to the shock of many, the Selection Committee left both teams out, and instead picked Ohio State to be the #4 team. While the Buckeyes record certainly speaks for itself, many still question whether or not Ohio State can be a College Football Playoff contender.

There are plenty of reasons to dismiss Ohio State. The most obvious is the issue at quarterback. Going into the year, Braxton Miller was the expected starter, but he re-injured his shoulder in August, ending his season before it even began. After going 1-1 with J.T. Barrett at quarterback, he led the Buckeyes to 10 straight wins before breaking his ankle against Michigan. Third-string quarterback Cardale Jones was thrust into the starting role in the Big Ten Championship game, and surprisingly picked up right where Barrett left off. But while that performance was impressive, can a third-string QB really compete against Alabama? The Crimson Tide have one of the best defenses in the league, unquestionably better than any the Buckeyes have faced so far. This matchup is certainly the least preferable one for the Buckeyes, a team that specializes in shootouts.

While there are concerns, Ohio State has consistently proven that it can beat the odds and win games when it matters most. After the loss against Virginia Tech, where the offense looked terrible, the Buckeyes scored more than 30 points every game, usually even topping 50. They beat three ranked teams down the stretch. The Big Ten Championship game was the most impressive by far, a 59-0 domination of Wisconsin with their third-string quarterback. The usually hot Wisconsin run offense, led by Melvin Gordon, was completely stifled. While they will surely be a worthy College Football Playoff contender, facing a seasoned Alabama defense might be insurmountable. However, if Jones and the Buckeyes offense can start off hot, they might be able to pull away and make it impossible for Alabama to keep up.

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