Ohio State Football and USC may soon confirm the inadequacy of the 4-team College Football Playoffs

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The more we discuss what could happen to Ohio State Football, USC, TCU and God help us Alabama this weekend, the more I think the 12-team College Football Playoffs can’t get here fast enough .

Maybe the Trojans will get away with it clean. Win the Pac-12 championship game – avenging their only loss to Utah in the process – and Lincoln Riley and Caleb Williams will make the playoffs. No question after USC climbed to 4th while OSU slipped to 5th after losing to Michigan.

However, the potential for a very chaotic result on Selection Sunday remains. If USC suffers a second loss to a team with three losses of their own, OSU could sneak into that fourth semifinal spot. I suppose that’s true even if they’re currently undefeated and TCU’s No. 3 in the Big 12 championship is taking a big loss to No. 10 Kansas State.

On the ESPN broadcast of the rankings, CFP Selection Committee Chairman Boo Corrigan called the conference championships a “bonus game.” It certainly won’t seem like a bonus for a team that loses and then falls below a team that didn’t manage to play their way into a conference championship game.

“We’re going to come back here on Friday and meet up and watch the games on Friday and Saturday and make sure we pick the right four teams — and honestly, the right 25 teams,” Corrigan said. “It will certainly be part of their work. … That’s part of the determination as we go through the whole process.”

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The point is that for the first time these groups of works will be of unequal size. But for now, we have to assume that if USC loses, the committee is ready to move Ohio State up.

(Corrigan also clarified that OSU No. 5 and Alabama No. 6 could still move up or down relative to each other this weekend, although neither is playing. Don’t go anywhere near Twitter without a hazmat suit and fire extinguisher.)

All that reinforces this process is the inadequacy of the four-team format. The expansion to 12 teams is coming in 2024 thanks to broadcast funds, sure, but it will also ease those make-or-break decisions high up the leaderboard. Analyzing teams 12 and 13 doesn’t have nearly the same stake as holding on to No. 4 and eliminating No. 5 from the championship fight.

Why does OSU belong in the playoffs when they were beaten by 22 points at home? (Corrigan conceded that score got out of control late.) Why does USC fit in when it needs a second loss to a team that’s been beaten three times?

On the other hand, why keep a one-loss OSU away due to one loss against a team better than anyone this potential USC has played against with two losses? Doesn’t OSU’s best win – in new No. 8 Penn State – trump the best win on the chart in USC (No. 15 Oregon State)?

And yet, if the committee thinks USC’s 12-game résumé is better than OSU’s, why bother examining another game for the Trojans while the Buckeyes are this weekend watch games at home?

It didn’t have to be that way and it won’t be that way anytime soon. Ohio State is the only program that would have qualified for the 12-team playoffs every year if used for the first eight years of the playoffs. That could be true again on Sunday, even if the Buckeyes are eliminated from the semifinals.

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