Photo courtesy of Clemson athletics

Few outside of Columbus believe that THE Ohio State Buckeyes should be in the College Football Playoff.

Sure, there are arguments that support that stance. But are they strong enough to overtake what Ryan Day and the Buckeyes have built over the past two seasons?

Now you may ask, “what does last season have to do with the 2020 playoffs?”

Well, the initial rankings are obviously based on the previous season, which is why Ohio State was able to jump into the top four after its first game. But, in addition to that, every team in America was able to build off of their previous season as the rankings would be more subjective than ever.

Some teams were able to take advantage of that, while others fumbled the opportunity — like Michigan and Penn State.

Does Ohio State Belong in the Playoff?

Obviously.

The Buckeyes cemented their place after a tighter-than-expected victory over Northwestern in the Big Ten championship. The argument of who got the fourth seed should’ve been Texas A&M or Notre Dame.

Oh, and circling back on the Texas A&M vs. Notre Dame argument, it came down to a simple question: should we put in the team that ALREADY got blown out by Alabama? Or should we put in a team that probably will get blown out by ‘Bama? Sorry Aggie fans, but the answer was pretty clear.

Sure, the Big Ten wasn’t as strong as it has been in previous years. That doesn’t take away from the fact that Ohio State had little issue with winning the conference. That is more than Oklahoma or Oregon can say.

If OSU Does Belong, Why is it a Must-Win?

There are several answers to this question.

From the fact that Clemson owns this series 4-0, to the drought of Big Ten playoff wins going back to 2014.

The most prevalent reason is that, well, a loss would prove the entire country correct — that the Buckeyes were wrongfully put into the semifinals.

On top of that, it would further prove that the Big Ten is becoming like the Pac-12 and Big 12 — a “power” conference that doesn’t really compete for national championships.

Sure, that may change next year when Trevor Lawrence leaves and the door opens for another school to step in.

But that doesn’t change the fact that the Big Ten, aside from last season when Ohio State lost 29-23 to Clemson, partially due to controversial no-call, has not been a true contender since 2014.

At the End of the Day…

The entire Big Ten is relying on a Ohio State win. No, the Buckeyes don’t have to win the national championship, but they need to prove that they, and thus subsequently, the Big Ten are to be taken seriously in the College Football Playoff.

So whether your an Iowa, Northwestern, or Indiana team that’s coming off a strong season and looking to contend next year, or if you’re a Penn State or Wisconsin and looking to bounce back next year, you need to be rooting for the Buckeyes.

Yes, even you, Michigan fans!