The Ohio State football team is set to compete in the first-ever College Football Playoff after checking in at No. 4 in the final playoff rankings of the season, announced Sunday afternoon.
The Buckeyes shellacked then-No. 13 Wisconsin, 59-0, in the Big Ten Championship Game on Saturday, extending their winning streak to 11 games. That winning streak is the second longest in the nation, behind No. 3 Florida State.
OSU (12-1, 8-0) is set to match up with No. 1 Alabama in the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day.
The Buckeyes sealed their spot on the playoff despite the four teams previously ranked ahead of them each picking up wins over the weekend. Undefeated Florida State moved back to No. 3, while Texas Christian University fell to No. 6, paving the way for the Buckeyes to make the playoffs.
Oregon was No. 2 in the final standings while Baylor moved up to No. 5.
OSU’s shutout of the Badgers — which came less than a week after it learned of the death of walk-on defensive lineman Kosta Karageorge — was sparked by redshirt-sophomore quarterback Cardale Jones, who was starting in place of redshirt-freshman quarterback and Heisman Trophy candidate J.T. Barrett.
Barrett fractured his ankle during OSU’s win over Michigan in the final game of the regular season and was ruled out for rest of the year. With Barrett — and senior quarterback Braxton Miller — out, Jones is set to make just the second start of his collegiate career in the College Football Playoff semifinal matchup.
The College Football Playoff rankings were decided by a panel of 12 members, including Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez, Lt. Gen. Mike Gould and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. In total, the panel is set to consist of 13 members, but former Mississippi and NFL quarterback Archie Manning is taking a leave of absence because of health concerns.
The Sugar Bowl is scheduled for an 8:30 p.m. start in New Orleans.