Ohio State Falls to No. 2, Will Play Clemson in Fiesta Bowl
Ohio State's failure to dominant the Big Ten Championship game from the outset didn't cost the Buckeyes an unbeaten season, but it did take the No. 1 ranking away from them Sunday in the final College Football Playoff rankings.
The Buckeyes, despite rallying from a 21-7 halftime deficit against Wisconsin to win, 34-21, fell to No. 2 behind LSU and will therefore play No. 3 Clemson in a Dec. 28 Playoff semifinal at the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Az.
OSU lost to Clemson, 31-0, in the Fiesta Bowl semifinal in 2016 -- the only shutout of Urban Meyer's head coaching career.
The Tigers also defeated Ohio State in the 2014 Orange Bowl after OSU lost in the Big Ten title game to Michigan State, which cost the Buckeyes a trip to the national championship game.
Clemson has won 28 consecutive games and Ohio State has won 21 in a row.
OSU coach Ryan Day said dropping from No. 1 to No. 2 will not impact his team.
"We didn't talk about it all that much," he said. "We knew if we were going to win the whole thing we knew we have to play everyone, the best, whether it's LSU, Clemson or Oklahoma."
LSU's 37-10 victory over Georgia in the SEC title game Saturday afternoon gave the Committee the impetus to move the Tigers from No. 2 to No. 1 ahead of Ohio State.
Committee spokesman Rob Mullens, the athletic director at Oregon, termed OSU and LSU, "two complete teams."
"This week we just felt that LSU was the better team," Mullens said.
The Tigers, led by former Buckeye quarterback Joe Burrow, will play No. 4 Oklahoma in the Dec. 28 Peach Bowl in Atlanta.
If Ohio State defeats Clemson and LSU defeats Oklahoma, the Buckeyes would play Burrow and the Tigers for the national championship on Jan. 13 in New Orleans.
OSU lost to the Tigers in the 2008 BCS title game at the New Orleans Superdome.
LSU, Ohio State and Oklahoma are led by transfer quarterbacks.
Burrow came to Baton Rouge from Columbus after playing two seasons with the Buckeyes.
OSU's Justin Fields transferred from Georgia after the 2018 season.
Oklahoma's Jalen Hurts played three seasons at Alabama before graduating and moving to Norman.
The OSU-Clemson match-up could be marketed as the No Respect Bowl.
Day campaigned strongly for his team to finish No. 1 after its comeback win over Wisconsin.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney has been emphasizing a lack of respect for his team since mid-season, going as far at one point as saying the Committee "doesn't want us in" the Playoff.
Swinney made light of his motivational tactics on Sunday.
"I have an unbelievable respect for what Dabo has done in that program," Day said. "They're the defending champs. We 're excited to be in the game."
"Any time you have to go across the country, free fuel is good," Swinney said. "Gas is expensive."
"...I have a deep, deep appreciation for what (Ohio State) has done. What that team has done and what coach Day has done is incredibly difficult to achieve."
The Committee had much to consider in determining whether OSU or LSU should finish No. 1.
LSU is just the fourth team in history to post five wins over Associated Press Top 10 teams in a single season, joining 2015 Alabama, 1987 Miami and 1943 Notre Dame.
That counts an opponent's ranking at kickoff, which is a metric some reject.
Comparing opponents penultimate College Football Playoff ranking, LSU has wins over No. 4 Georgia, No. 9 Florida, No. 11 Auburn and No. 12 Alabama.
Ohio State has two wins over No. 8 Wisconsin, one when the Badgers were ranked No. 13, No. 10 Penn State, No. 14 Michigan and No. 20 Cincinnati.
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