Big Ten's best playoff chance? It's not Ohio State, according to Jerry Palm

Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Big Ten's best playoff chance? It's not Ohio State, according to Jerry Palm

I continue to be peppered with questions about Ohio State’s viability as a playoff contender. Will the Buckeyes be able to make it into the Top Four to earn a spot?

It’s a long shot. In fact, another Big Ten team has a better shot at making the playoffs: Nebraska. That’s correct. The Cornhuskers are better poised to seize a spot than Ohio State, at least according to playoff expert Jerry Palm of CBSSports.com.

“I would say their resume would be slightly better than Ohio State’s,” Palm told me this morning. “Because their loss is to Michigan State. They played Miami (Fla.) outside the league. That’s a decent team. If Nebraska has no chance (at the playoffs), then Ohio State has less than no chance. I think 12-1 Nebraska is a better candidate than 12-1 Ohio State—but only slightly.”

The Cornhuskers (8-1, 4-1 Big Ten) and Buckeyes (8-1, 5-0) both need help—a lot of help. Nebraska was No. 13 last week in the College Football Playoff Poll and has games left at Wisconsin, vs. Minnesota, at Iowa. Ohio State was No. 14 in the CFP Poll last week and has games remaining at Minnesota, vs. Indiana, vs. Michigan.

The top four teams in last week’s CFP Poll were No. 1 Mississippi State; No. 2 Florida State; No. 3 Auburn; No. 4 Oregon. Michigan State was No. 8.

The third poll will be released Tuesday night.

“In this week’s rankings, I still think there will be two-loss teams ahead of Ohio State,” said Palm. “I don’t expect Ohio State to jump Mississippi or Auburn.

“If you look at Ohio State’s full plate of results, they have played one ranked team (Michigan State). And arguably only one other above-average team—Maryland. And that’s pretty much it.”

In the end, Palm wouldn’t be shocked if a 12-1 Ohio State finished behind a two-loss team in the CFP Poll in its quest for a postseason spot.

“If you look at the potential one-loss teams (right now), a 12-1 Ohio State would be at the bottom of the list,” said Palm. “And it could possibly end up behind a two-loss team.”

Ohio State will have played Michigan State and the West Division champ, in terms of quality opponents. That’s it.

The 35-21 loss at home to Virginia Tech back on Sept. 6 will haunt Ohio State. This is a bad Hokies club that is 4-5 overall and 1-4 in the ACC, riding a three-game losing streak and sitting in last place in the ACC Coastal Division.

“That eye-sore of a loss to Virginia Tech is going to be hard to overcome,” Palm said. “I understand that if that game was played now, Ohio State probably would run them off the field. But that never was a good Virginia Tech team. That was Tech’s moment of glory. It hasn’t been good before or since.

“J.T. Barrett was still getting adapted … I understand the circumstances. But a loss is a loss. No one else (among contenders) has a loss like that. There is no way Ohio State is going to get ahead of Oregon or TCU or Baylor. In fact, OSU could end up behind a team with two-losses that played a good schedule.”

About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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