After Ohio State’s second-half comeback to win the Big Ten Championship Saturday, head coach Ryan Day said the Buckeyes deserved to retain their ranking as the nation’s top team.
The College Football Playoff selection committee did not agree.
Ohio State was jumped by LSU after its 37-10 win in the SEC Championship Game against Georgia, setting the stage for a No. 2 versus No. 3 matchup with the defending national champion Clemson Tigers Dec. 28.
“Do I feel like we should’ve been the one seed? Yeah,” Day said after the announcement. “LSU has had an unbelievable season. I think what Joe [Burrow] has done and what that team has done, they’ve done an unbelievable job. What Clemson has done, I could see that argument, as well. They’re the defending national champs, and they haven’t lost a game since and played great football.”
With wins against three top 15 opponents in Penn State, Michigan and Wisconsin in the past three weeks, Day said the Buckeyes have already been playing “playoff football.”
Ohio State redshirt junior center Josh Myers said the team wanted the No. 1 seed, but wasn’t sure they had secured it after a performance against Wisconsin that saw the Buckeyes go down 21-7 at halftime.
“I thought it would be a toss up. I think most of us thought it would. I think we all thought it could’ve gone either way,” Myers said.
When the Buckeyes and Tigers square off in Phoenix at the Fiesta Bowl, it will be the third time the teams have played in the past six seasons.
In the 2014 Orange Bowl, Clemson defeated Braxton Miller and the Buckeyes 40-35.
They matched up again in the 2016 College Football Playoff, with Ohio State as the No. 3 and Clemson as the No. 2 seed. Head coach Dabo Swinney and the Tigers blanked the Buckeyes 31-0.
After the selection show Sunday, Swinney said this Ohio State team is different from the two previous iterations.
“This is easily the most talented and most complete Ohio State team we have played,” Swinney told ESPN.
Redshirt senior defensive tackles Jashon Cornell and Robert Landers played in the 2016 game against Clemson, but Landers said this is a new era of Ohio State football. Cornell said the Buckeyes will be prepared for their second crack at Clemson in the first round of the playoff, but still felt slighted by the drop in ranking.
“I feel like the media sometimes –– or people –– don’t really give Ohio State the respect that we need,” Cornell said. “But we’re ready to play, we don’t care where we’re at.”
Following the announcement, Myers said Day asked the team, “We’re in the College Football Playoffs, what more could you ask for?”
They may have drawn a matchup that other prospective playoff teams hoped to avoid, but Day and the Buckeyes are one win away from the program’s fifth appearance in the national championship since 2002. A team can’t get there if they’re afraid to play an opponent.
“If we want to go win the whole thing, we have to be able to play anybody,” Day said. “And now we have to go play Clemson.”