Who should play Ohio State in the national championship game? As of today, we are left with 10 teams that can justify playing for the national championship against undefeated Ohio State: Michigan, Florida, Notre Dame, USC, Arkansas, West Virginia, Louisville, Rutgers, Wisconsin and Boise State. It is certainly easier to eliminate some teams before we argue for others, so let’s get that out of the way.
Boise State: Finished the season undefeated at 11-0, including a win against Hawaii (9-2), who is now ranked #25. Unfortunately for the Broncos, their next biggest win is against Oregon State, who finished 7-4 (but did beat USC, which we will discuss later). Without a bigger out of conference win, Boise State is out of luck.
Wisconsin: Finished 11-1 overall, the loss coming at Michigan, who is also the only ranked team the Badgers played. With Ohio State and Michigan dominating the Big Ten, Wisconsin is left out.
Rutgers: Had a HUGE win against Louisville at home, but followed it up with a loss to Cincinnati, who improved to 6-5 with the win. Any loss against an unranked opponent (especially one fighting to even play in a bowl game) will kill any chance of playing for a national championship.
Louisville: Lost to Rutgers, who was also undefeated at the time, which didn’t seem that bad until Rutgers came back to earth and lost to Cincinnati. They also beat Miami, who was #17 at the time, but the Hurricanes have been in a tailspin all season long. A big win against West Virginia certainly helps their cause, but the Rutgers loss might be too big to overcome.
West Virginia: They might have the best chance of any of the Big East teams to make it to the championship game. The loss to Louisville hurt, but not as much as Louisville’s loss to Rutgers. Unfortunately for the Big East, the possibility of all three teams beating each other (Rutgers over Louisville, Louisville over West Virginia, West Virginia over Rutgers) pretty much takes all of them out of contention.
Notre Dame: Seemed to play an unusually light schedule this year, until you realize they played the same teams they always play, it’s just that their opponents weren’t that good. Lost badly to Michigan in South Bend and still has to play at USC. Regardless of whether or not they beat the Trojans, the loss to Michigan should keep them from the championship game.
USC: Still needs to play against Notre Dame, but even if they win, the loss to Oregon State should keep them out of it. This team has gotten better and better as the season goes on, but one bad loss is enough to keep this team out of the National Championship game.
A LITTLE MORE THAN MAYBE…
Arkansas: The only loss for the Razorbacks this season is to USC, who is currently #3; a good loss, except that they got absolutely destroyed, losing 50-14. If they do end up winning the SEC (they still have to beat LSU and Florida), the case to include them becomes VERY strong.
Florida: Only one loss, which came at Auburn, the Gators look very strong with their two-QB system. They still need to play at Florida State, and then the SEC championship game against Arkansas, but if they beat both of those teams, they should be in line for the national championship game, except for…
Michigan: Michigan’s loss to Ohio State proved they can play with the Buckeyes, which seems like more than anyone else has proven. They manhandled Notre Dame in South Bend and also beat 11-1 Wisconsin by two touchdowns. The negatives against this team are big though: they did not win their conference and only beat 1 ranked team (Wisconsin wasn’t ranked at the time of the game). Regardless of the negatives however, they proved that they are the second best team in college football, which is exactly who should be playing Ohio State for the National Championship.