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What South Carolina Blowing Out Tennessee Means for Ohio State Football, Michigan and The Game

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Cut another team out of the potential obstacles that stand between Ohio State Football or Michigan going to the playoffs if they lose The Game.

Tennessee appeared to be in a fairly comfortable place early in the weekend. With just one away loss to Georgia, the team was able to win at No. 1 in the top playoff rankings and wait for other teams to lose while slipping back into the top four.

That potential ended in the hands of Spencer Rattler and South Carolina on Saturday night. The former Oklahoma quarterback and long-retired Heisman Trophy contender threw for 438 yards and six touchdowns in a 63-38 drubbing by the Volunteers.

Tennessee had to suffer a second loss — and shamefully so — to drop out of the playoff contenders.

The loser of The Game will have an 11-1 record, but with no chance of improving it against a (probably) unranked opponent in the Big Ten championship game.

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Depending on how the dominoes fall, a loss in Ohio or Michigan states could be the selection committee’s best remaining option.

Defending champion Georgia, No. 1 in the playoff rankings, can be included as long as they only lose to LSU in the SEC championship. If the Bulldogs win, a three-loss LSU won’t make the playoffs.

TCU looked vulnerable again on Saturday but kept winning, 29-28 at Baylor. The committee was the least enthusiastic about the Horned Frogs of the four remaining undefeated teams. Any loss from here — next week against Iowa State or in the Big 12 championship game — could leave TCU behind Ohio State or Michigan in terms of overall resume quality.

USC is struggling to stay in the one-loss talk at UCLA tonight and leads 34-31 early in the fourth quarter. The Trojans are the Pac 12’s only chance at picking Sunday to deliver a conference champion with a loss to win.

The path that will take both Ohio State and Michigan to the playoffs regardless of Saturday’s result is becoming increasingly realistic.

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