How Ohio State could impact Big Ten, College Football Playoff debate

Welcome to Before The Snap, For The Win’s college football show where we’ll break down the sport’s trending storylines, examine each week’s biggest matchups and track the College Football Playoff and Heisman Trophy races.

Going into Week 14 of this strange college football season, the top-4 teams in the country remain clear: Alabama, Notre Dame, Clemson and Ohio State. But whether or not those four teams actually make it to the College Football Playoff is a bit more complicated this year because the season is carrying on through the COVID-19 pandemic.

As of Thursday morning, Ohio State has the second-best chance to make the College Football Playoff, according to ESPN’s Playoff Predictor, at 77.4 percent — behind only Alabama with 96.4 percent.

However, the Buckeyes are 4-0 and have had two games this season canceled already, and they have two games remaining on their schedule. They’re set to play Michigan State on Saturday and Michigan the following weekend. But if either of those matchups are canceled, they won’t meet the Big Ten’s six-game threshold to be eligible for the conference championship game.

If Ohio State plays and wins its next two games, none of this will be an issue. But if it’s unable to play for a conference title — a factor the selection committee considers — can it still make the playoff?

We break down Ohio State’s position in the Big Ten and how this season’s playoff debate could be even more complex than usual.

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College football picks, odds for Big Ten in Week 14: Ohio State rolls, Wisconsin bounces back against Indiana

The Big Ten has had a theme of games getting canceled this season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That will be the case once again this week with Maryland at Michigan and Northwestern at Minnesota off due to the virus and protocols.

After being forced to cancel last week’s game due to COVID-19, Ohio State returns to the field to show that it belongs in the conversation for the College Football Playoff. The Buckeyes were ranked No. 4 in the most recent College Football Playoff Rankings behind the likes of Alabama, Notre Dame and Clemson. Ohio State just has Michigan State and Michigan to cap off the season and in actuality, Michigan State could be their final opponent of the season given Michigan’s recent COVID-19 outbreak. 

The most intriguing game on the Big Ten slate is Indiana taking on Wisconsin in the only battle of ranked teams. However, a game that looked really interesting on paper took a hit last week when Hoosiers star quarterback Michael Penix Jr. suffered a torn ACL against Maryland. Now sophomore Jack Tuttle, who has very limited experience, will take over the reins and have an uphill battle against a very tough Wisconsin team on the road. 

Let’s take a closer look at this week’s conference slate with the latest edition of Big Ten picks.

No. 4 Ohio State at Michigan State

Latest Odds:

Buckeyes
-24

Ohio State returns to the gridiron after having last week’s game canceled as a result of COVID-19. The Buckeyes will be looking to make a statement with just two more games remaining on their schedule. However, this matchup against Michigan State could be just what the doctor ordered for Ohio State. The Buckeyes possess the top scoring offense in the Big Ten while the Spartans rank dead last with just 18 points per contest. While a three-touchdown line is hefty, I have zero doubt that Justin Fields and company will put a ton of points on the board. Pick: Ohio State (-23.5)

Latest Odds:

Boilermakers
-1

Nebraska has been one of the most disappointing teams in the Big Ten this season. Despite only having one win entering last week’s game against Iowa, the Cornhuskers took the Hawkeyes to the limit and even led in the second half. Quarterback Adrian Martinez was nearly flawless as he threw just two incompletions and made plays with his legs. This game has the potential to be another close one for a Nebraska team that has lost three of their past four games by eight points or less. However, I think the Cornhuskers do just enough to steal one on the road. Pick: Nebraska (+2.5)

Polar opposites will be doing battle when Penn State takes on Rutgers. The Nittany Lions had lofty expectations entering the 2020 season and didn’t earn their first win until just this past week against Michigan. On the other hand, Rutgers has been the laughingstock of the Big Ten for several seasons, but coach Greg Schiano has really turned the

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What is more important to Ohio State fans: The Game or the College Football Playoff?

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State football fans cannot imagine a season that does not end with The Game against Michigan.

They also don’t want to consider the consequences of a season without a trip to the College Football Playoff.

The coronavirus pandemic remains a threat to both. The Buckeyes’ own COVID-19 outbreak appears to be under control enough for Ohio State to return to the field on Saturday. But Michigan is on pause due to its own increase in cases, and much remains uncertain about the closing weeks of the season.

Could the Big Ten change its minimum games requirement for playing in the league championship game? Would it consider altering its schedule next week to ensure Ohio State another game if the Wolverines need to cancel? What about reconsidering the amount of times players who tested positive must remain out of competition?

We delved into all of those questions and more in our big Thursday edition of Buckeye Talk. And we surveyed our text subscribers to learn:

• What means more, The Game or the playoff?

• What does it mean for a season if Ohio State and Michigan cannot play?

• Should the Big Ten have protected The Game by scheduling it earlier in the season?

If you’ve never listened to Buckeye Talk, try it now. And subscribe to Buckeye Talk on any of these podcast platforms or wherever you listen to podcasts.

• Buckeye Talk on iTunes

• Buckeye Talk on Spotify

• Buckeye Talk on Google Play

New Ohio State face masks for sale: Here’s where you can buy Ohio State-themed face coverings for coronavirus protection. A 3-pack is available on Fanatics for $29.99.

Ohio State Buckeyes Adult Face Covering

Fanatics has released Ohio State Buckeyes Adult Face Coverings. This 3-pack of adult masks, retails for $29.99.


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College Football Playoff rankings: Ohio State still No. 4 in after cancellation; USC drops to No. 20

Ohio State held on to the fourth spot in the College Football Playoff rankings on Tuesday night after having its previous game canceled, landing behind No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Notre Dame and No. 3 Clemson for a second straight week.

The selection committee’s top seven teams were unchanged from last week’s rankings after the playoff contenders either won comfortably or didn’t play because of COVID-19 issues.

Texas A&M (6-1) was in fifth and Florida (7-1) sixth.

Ohio State (4-0) had to cancel its game at Illinois last week because of a spike in COVID-19 cases in the program. It was the second game of the season the Buckeyes have missed out on. One more cancellation would leave them ineligible for the Big Ten championship game and unable to play more than six regular-season games.

No. 7 Cincinnati (8-0) also had its last game canceled. The Bearcats are next scheduled to play Dec. 12 at Tulsa.

The College Football Playoff has set no minimum number of games played to be eligible for the playoff. It’s just going to be up to the selection committee to figure out how many is too few.

“There is a discrepancy sometimes between a team that plays eight or nine games and a team that’s played three or four games and frankly that’s a problem (in ranking teams),” said selection committee chairman Gary Barta, who is Iowa’s athletic director.

Barta said the committee discussed ranking Texas A&M ahead of Ohio State, but for now the Buckeyes and their potent offense led by quarterback Justin Fields are holding down the final playoff spot.

“When those two teams were put side-by-side this morning and last night, there just wasn’t enough there to put Texas A&M ahead of Ohio State,” Barta said.

Texas A&M is coming off a 20-7 victory against LSU that was played in a rainy and windy conditions.

Georgia was eighth and Iowa State and Miami rounded out the top 10. Oklahoma was 11th, followed by Indiana and BYU.

The Cougars, who are hoping for a New Year’s Six bowl, edged up one spot.

1. Alabama
2. Notre Dame
3. Clemson
4. Ohio State
5. Texas A&M
6. Florida
7. Cincinnati
8. Georgia
9. Iowa State
10. Miami (FL.)
11. Oklahoma
12. Indiana
13. Brigham Young
14. Northwestern
15. Oklahoma State
16. Wisconsin
17. North Carolina
18. Coastal Carolina
19. Iowa
20. USC
21. Marshall
22. Washington
23. Oregon
24. Tulsa
25. Louisiana-Lafayette

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Is Michigan really gearing up to take a dive so Ohio State can’t make the College Football Playoff? | This is the Loop

Something fishy is brewing over in the Big Ten. On Tuesday night, during ESPN’s weekly College Football Playoff rankings show, former Ohio State Buckeyes signal caller Kirk Herbstreit casually floated this little theory mid-conversation . . .

Nothing in the world of COVID and college football is casual, however, and soon the statement spread like wildfire. Herbie, being the pro’s pro that he is, quickly took to Twitter to douse the flames, but the seed was planted.

Then Wednesday afternoon, right on schedule, Michigan announced it would be pausing football activities due to COVID-19 “concerns” ahead of Saturday’s game against Maryland. Suddenly Herbie’s words came rushing back. Does he know something we don’t? Michigan wouldn’t really . . . would they?

What we’re talking about here would be unprecedented. Taking a dive. Throwing the game. Waving the white flag. The Buckeyes, who have already had games against Maryland and Illinois cancelled and are planning to play Michigan State on Saturday without head coach Ryan Day, would be ineligible for the Big Ten Championship game if they are forced to cancel a third game. And if they cancel a third game, don’t play in the Big Ten Championship game, and finish the season with a record of 5-0, their best win coming against Indiana by a touchdown at home, are they really making the College Football Playoff ahead of a potential one-loss Florida or Texas A&M or an undefeated Cincinnati? Hell no they aren’t. Not even in 2020.

We’re not saying this is what the Wolverines are setting up here, but we’re not not saying it either. Where’s there’s smoke, there’s usually fire, and we know nobody loves to blow smoke quite like the Ann Arbor faithful. But let’s not jump to conclusions just yet. Let’s wait and see how the movers shake and the shakers move. One thing is certain, however: Should this happen—should Michigan take the dive and effectively end Ohio State’s season—then Harbaugh deserves that elusive W he’s been searching for.

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College football picks, predictions, odds for Week 14: Ohio State vs. Michigan State among the best bets

justin-fields-ohio-state.jpg

This season is unlike anything we have ever experienced. Computer simulations — if that’s your thing — mean nothing with only a smattering of nonconference games between FBS schools scheduled and four of the leagues not playing any at all. Nevertheless, we’ve been working with our resources.

Each week, I use this space to tell you what I think are a few of the best bets heading into the weekend. I also throw in an upset of the week, which will feature a team that is at least a touchdown underdog that I am picking to win outright. I also give you picks on other games involving teams in College Football Playoff contention.

Last week I was 3-0 on the picks, and the upset special covered as well but lost outright. The picks are 13-13 for the season. The upset missed, so those picks are now 4-5 outright and 6-3 ATS. 

Week 14 picks

No. 3 Clemson at Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech has not been the same since the loss to Liberty. The Hokies had that game won and messed it up at the end. Clemson will be looking to keep the momentum going from last week’s thrashing of Pitt and clinch a spot in the ACC Championship Game. Pick: Clemson (-22)

No. 4 Ohio State at Michigan State 

Latest Odds:

Buckeyes
-23.5

The Buckeyes look like they will be able to play this game after sitting idle last week due to a COVID-19 outbreak but resuming team activities on Tuesday. They need to not just play, but win big in order to ease the minds of an increasingly skeptical College Football Playoff selection committee. That may not be easy against a Spartan team coming off an upset of Northwestern last week. Pick: Ohio State (-23.5)

Liberty at No. 18 Coastal Carolina

Latest Odds:

Chanticleers
-11

It’s been a terrific year for the Sun Belt, and Coastal Carolina is a big part of the reason. The Chanticleers opened the season with a win at Kansas and have beaten everyone it their path, including a win over former Sun Belt king Appalachian State. There are a lot of distractions this week, though, and 9-1 Liberty is an outstanding team as well. The Flames are a last-second blocked field goal from being undefeated also. Pick: Liberty (+8.5)

Upset of the week

Penn State at Rutgers

Look, I know it’s exciting that Penn State finally won a game. The Nittany Lions picked up their first win of the season last week at Michigan. Still, I fail to see how PSU can be a double-digit favorite against anyone, let alone a very feisty Rutgers squad. Greg Schiano’s bunch is not the doormat we are used to seeing out of the Scarlet Knights. Pick: Rutgers (+11.5)

Other CFP candidates

Which college football picks can you make with confidence in Week 14? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread — all from a proven computer model that has returned over $3,500

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Advocates hope for Ohio education funding overhaul by year’s end, but state senators say there may not be enough time

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio House is expected to vote Thursday on a bill that would bring sweeping changes to how education is funded, since the current scheme was found unconstitutional 23 years ago.

But once in the Senate, House Bill 305 may not get far enough through the legislative process to advance to a floor vote, two senators said, explaining that there were numerous spending figures to review before year’s end, when the two-year General Assembly session expires. All bills that haven’t passed by then will die.

HB 305 is the result of years of work and negotiations in the public education community, since it would change how much money the state’s 610 school districts receive from the state and raise locally for education. Proponents argue that the current funding scheme isn’t a formula and what they’ve created in HB 305 is one that is logical and can be defended.

Sen. Matt Dolan, the Chagrin Falls Republican who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, said the components of HB 305 need to be in the next state budget bill, which will be passed next year.

“I remain hesitant to pass this,” he said. “There are still studies that need to be done. I think it’s going to be difficult to pass this out, out of the context of a state budget.”

Dolan said that the years of work that people have devoted to improving upon the bill can’t be vetted by the Senate in a matter of weeks.

Rep. John Patterson, an Ashtabula County Democrat, has been working on a new education funding formula since 2013. He began working on the issue with now Ohio House Speaker Bob Cupp, a Lima Republican, five years ago, and brought in members of the public education community to hammer out specifics of the bill three years ago.

He notes the bill has broad bipartisan support. It passed Thursday 32-0 in the House Finance Committee.

“We wanted to get it as right as we could for all, and I would be the first to tell you the bill is not perfect,” Patterson said. “No bill as complex as this one is perfect. But we labored to seek as much perfection as we could. That journey towards perfection cost us valuable time. I would be the first to admit that too. But the fruits of our labors were evidenced today in Finance with a vote of unanimity amongst my colleagues.”

Patterson is leaving the House at the end of the year, due to term limits.

Currently, the state’s education funding scheme attempts to equalize learning for all Ohio children, regardless of how rich or poor their community is, by bifurcating districts into two categories: those that are guaranteed state funding because their local property taxes can’t generate enough to educate students – which is 336 districts, or most of them – and the remaining ones with higher property values, which caps off the level of state funding they receive.

House Bill 305, and an identical

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Ohio State University tops Ohio law schools in bar exam passage rates for October test

Out of 958 applicants who took the October 2020 bar exam in Ohio — which was offered in lieu of what would traditionally be exams held in July — 741 (or 77.4%) passed, according to results posted by the Ohio Supreme Court.

That is the highest passage rate since July 2013, according to the court. The passage rate in Ohio for the July 2019 exams was 73.1% among 885 applicants.

There were 810 first-time test takers this fall. Their passage rate was 85%.

Among Ohio’s nine law schools, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law had the lowest total passage rate at 69% among 95 test takers. Just ahead of it is the University of Akron School of Law, which is exploring the viability of some kind of merger of the law school with Cleveland-Marshall.

The best-performing school is Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law, which boasted a passage rate of 92%. Ohio State was also the most-represented school with 156 graduates taking the exam.

In second place is Case Western Reserve University School of Law, which had a passage rate of 91% among 66 test takers.

The bar exam is offered twice a year, usually in February and July. The summer exam tends to be the more popular option. You can read about the February exam results here.

In response to pressures for developing a safer alternative to cramming nearly 1,000-some aspiring lawyers into a Columbus conference center room — two people per table — amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ohio Supreme Court opted to have a remote bar exam administered for the first time this fall. This was a move down in line with other districts that sought alternatives to in-person testing.

There was an 8% increase in aspiring lawyers taking the summer/fall exam this year in Ohio.

But according to the National Conference for Bar Examiners, about 38,000 people took bar exams this year between July and October, compared with 46,370 who took the test in July 2019. So roughly 18% fewer people took the summer bar exam this year across the country.

Here’s how each law school in Ohio performed in the summer/fall 2020 bar exams based on their grads taking the test, ranked from worst to best by passage rates (law school rankings, tuition and enrollment figures come from U.S. News & World Report):

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Ohio State has uneasy playoff spot

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USA TODAY Sports’ Paul Myerberg breaks down the latest Amway Coaches Poll.

USA TODAY

Ohio State didn’t play last weekend, but the Buckeyes were one of the biggest losers in the College Football Playoff race.

Sidelined by COVID-19 positive tests that have hit players and coach Ryan Day, Ohio State saw its matchup against Illinois canceled, leaving the team with just four games played and just two weeks left before the Big Ten title game. If the Buckeyes aren’t healthy enough to face scheduled opponents Michigan State or Michigan or if either of those two teams are shut down, then OSU will not meet the Big Ten criteria to play in the championship game.

Justin Fields (1) celebrates his first-half touchdown run with Chris Olave (2). (Photo: Joseph Maiorana, USA TODAY Sports)

Another blow came with Northwestern’s loss at Michigan State. The prospect of beating an unbeaten opponent in the Big Ten title game is gone, meaning the resume for the Buckeyes may not be as strong as other teams. That assumes Ohio State is eligible to play for the conference championship. It could result in the Buckeyes being stuck as a No. 4 seed should they finish unbeaten and make the CFP field.

HEISMAN WATCH: Florida’s Trask, Alabama’s Jones locked in tight race

TAKING STOCK: Where the College Football Playoff stands after Week 13

RE-RANK: Alabama, Notre Dame the clear top two in NCAA 1-127 ranking

Alabama and Notre Dame look secure in their playoff spots. The Crimson Tide and Fighting Irish look comfortable of making the field even with losses in their respective conference championship games. Clemson needs to beat Notre Dame in the ACC championship to secure its spot.

There’s two changes in the New Year’s Six with Northwestern and Oregon dropping out. Moving up are Texas A&M and Southern California. Games in the final three weeks could further shuffle those spots.

The bowl lineup for the postseason stands at 35 games with the status of the Las Vegas Bowl uncertain. Teams in bold have accepted berths.

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