Tiki: Ohio State is not one of the four best teams in the country

The Buckeyes are not a top-four team, Tiki Barber says, and they shouldn't make the playoff without a Big Ten title

Tiki and Tierney
November 30, 2020 - 6:25 pm
Ohio State Ryan Day

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The College Football Playoff committee ranked Ohio State No. 4 in its inaugural 2020 rankings last Tuesday. Whether they keep the undefeated Buckeyes (4-0) there at the end of the season, however, remains to be seen.

Ohio State has seen two of its last three games – at Maryland (2-2) on Nov. 14 and at Illinois (2-3) on Nov. 28 – canceled due to COVID-19. If the Buckeyes have to cancel either of their last two games – at Michigan State (2-3) on Dec. 5 or against Michigan (2-4) on Dec. 12 – they would not meet the Big Ten’s six-game threshold for participation in the Big Ten Championship, which is slated for Dec. 19 at noon ET.

Can – or should – the Buckeyes make the playoff without a Big Ten title? Especially after only playing potentially four or five games?

Tiki Barber says no.

“Can I say they’re one of the four best teams in college football?” Barber asked on Tiki & Tierney. “The answer is no, especially if they don’t play in the Big Ten Championship Game and have that title. It’s a semantics thing, and I know that the College Football Playoff committee is looking for objectively who is the best four teams in the country, but I think even objectively – and subjectively – you can’t say that about Ohio State right now. You just can’t.”

Ohio State has beaten Nebraska (1-4), Penn State (1-5), Rutgers (2-4) and No. 12 Indiana (5-1). Combined record: 9-14. Even worse, the win over the Hoosiers produced more questions than answers about the Buckeyes, who almost let a 35-7 lead slip through their grasp.

“I think a one-loss Florida team – or a two-loss Florida team, even if they lost to Alabama in the SEC Championship – is more compelling,” Barber said. “Texas A&M is making a case for [themselves] as a one-loss SEC squad. They will not lose two unless [they get upset].”

Texas A&M’s (6-1) only loss is to No. 1 Alabama (8-0). Florida’s (7-1) only loss is to A&M – by a field goal. No. 7 Cincinnati (8-0), meanwhile, is still undefeated.

“I can’t make the argument [for Ohio State], and I can’t blame anybody but the Big Ten themselves,” Barber said. “You have to give credit where credit is due. The ACC and the SEC – and the Big 12, for that matter, but they disqualified themselves early in their season with no one really competitive for the Final Four – but the SEC and the ACC said, ‘We are going to just trudge ahead. Yes, we know it is dangerous. We know that there could be cancelations and we’re putting our student-athletes in predicaments, and if it comes, we will address them at the time and we’ll have to delay and postpone games.’ 

“But they started their season on time knowing that this was going to be the case,” Barber continued. “Now they’ve had these issues, but they’ve been able to mitigate them. The Big Ten, they can’t mitigate it. By their own rules, they can’t mitigate it because they set the limit at six games – unless the majority of teams play less than six games, which will not be the case.”

The playoff committee will unveil its next rankings Dec. 1. It will release its final rankings Dec. 20.