INDIANAPOLIS — The College Football Playoff Committee has said that it will account for injuries when picking its four teams.
That raises a lot of questions — putting the entire process on terrible footing — but one in particular as it pertains to Ohio State: Will the committee consider a team’s ability to overcome those injuries?
The Buckeyes proved themselves capable of doing that Saturday in the Big Ten title game when third-string quarterback Cardale Jones led the team to a 59-0 victory against Wisconsin.
That was the second time Ohio State has proved as much. After starting quarterback Braxton Miller was lost in the preseason with a shoulder injury, second-stringer J.T. Barrett led the team to an undefeated Big Ten record. Barrett suffered a fractured ankle last week against Michigan, vaulting Jones into the starting spot.
Hopefully, the Buckeyes make the committee rethink the absurd and ambiguous criteria for selection into the College Football Playoff, at least partially, based on the health of a team.
Ohio State likely won’t be in the playoff. It would be a shock if the committee took the Buckeyes over an undefeated defending national champion in Florida State. But the Buckeyes made their case.
Miller or Barrett, Heisman contenders before they got hurt, probably couldn’t have played a better first half than Jones did. He was precise on scoring passes of 39 and 44 yards to wide receiver Devin Smith.
With the game in hand by halftime, Ohio State went to the run in the second half.
Jones finished 12-for-17 passing for 257 yards and three touchdowns. Running back Ezekial Elliott dropped what would have been Jones’ fourth touchdown pass on third down in the second quarter.
And the threat of the 6-5, 250-pound Jones as a runner allowed Elliot to run untouched for an 81-yard touchdown on an option play in the first quarter.
“I played with a confidence because of the confidence my teammates had in me, because of the confidence my coaches had in me,” Jones said.
This whole selection thing should be more about wins and losses. If one player meant that much to the Buckeyes, they would have lost to Wisconsin. Or the game at least would have been close.
Who is to predict how an injury might affect a team in a playoff scenario? Unless former superintendent of the Air Force Academy Mike Gould, a committee member, has psychic powers, it’s best to look at the past as indication.
The icing on the cake? Buckeyes offensive coordinator Tom Herman, who deserves to win the Broyles Award (nation’s top assistant) when it’s announced Tuesday and should get heavy consideration for coaching vacancies this offseason, turned in that performance against a Badgers team ranked second in total defense.
By the way, Herman prepared Jones for the game in just six
“Cardale, he’s a veteran player who was immature when he got on campus. Obviously, he’s mature and Tom gets a lot of credit for that,” coach Urban Meyer said.