Initial thoughts on Ohio State getting the final spot into the College Football Playoff

It was a great Sunday for the Buckeyes. The College Football Playoff committee selected Ohio State as the No. 4 and gave it a matchup with the top overall seed and defending champion, Georgia Bulldogs. It will be a very interesting game.

Ryan Day and his football team were extremely excited, which isn’t surprising after losing to arch-rival Michigan at home during the last weekend of the regular season. A number of thoughts have crossed my mind since the committee selected the Buckeyes. Here are the ones that have stood out as we will undoubtedly analyze this game plenty before it’s actually played on New Year’s Eve.

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First off, thank you USC and TCU

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Really, we appreciate you both not living up to the hype when it would have been really easy for the Buckeyes to get shut out of the playoffs. I can’t remember being any happier than I was on Friday night after USC dropped its second game of the season to Utah. That opened the door for the Buckeyes, and it was more than welcome in Columbus and around Buckeye nation. We should also send a thanks to last year’s Rose Bowl opponent Utah and its coach, Kyle Wittingham. Thanks, Utes!

Anything that bothers Jim Harbaugh is a win

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When asked about potentially playing the Buckeyes again, Harbaugh dodged the question, saying his “thought was on the ballgame (conference championship).” He didn’t want to talk about it, and I believe that after its win two weeks ago, Michigan thought Ohio State was knocked out of the race. Well, that wasn’t the case, and now there is a potential for the two teams to play with a title on the line, in a neutral stadium.

Sign me up.

The Big Ten now knows how the SEC feels

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For the first time in College Football Playoff history, another conference aside from the SEC has two teams playing for a championship. The Big Ten now has an argument for the best conference in the country. It doesn’t mean that the conference will win a title, but it means the committee finally is recognizing that football is played at a high level in other conferences aside from the SEC.

Georgia is TTUN, but with better players

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Speaking of the SEC, the Buckeyes’ opponent is built like TTUN, but with much better athletes. The recruiting rankings between the two schools speak for themselves. Their playing styles are extremely similar, with elite defenses and an offense that relies on a ground game and passing to their tight ends. There is no doubt in my mind that Kirby Smart is studying what our rivals did well against us. Ryan Day has to know this and prepare the team to see similar looks.

The team has a chance for redemption

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This isn’t how any of us envisioned the Buckeyes getting into the playoffs, but that doesn’t matter anymore, they are in. I have said that the biggest difference between Urban Meyer and Day is that Urban’s team had an edge. They played like they were disrespected. Well, this team has been disrespected and that edge is there. The question is will they use that as motivation or is this who this team is? I’d love to believe that this team isn’t that, but we need to see it and this Buckeye team will have the opportunity to do just that.

The health of this team should make them drastically better

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There was a laundry list of players who were injured at the end of the year. Some tried to tough it out; others weren’t able to go. These will be some interesting developments for the Buckeyes. Does Jaxon Smith-Njigba recover from his hamstring injury to be the receiver he was last year or does he call it a day and prepare for the NFL draft? (Update: JSN has declared for the NFL Draft and will not play in the CFP) How about the running back room that has been dinged up all year? Will either of the two best backs, TreVeyon Henderson or Miyan Williams, be healthy?

Defensively, tackle Mike Hall was on a snap count for the majority of the second half of the season. This time off will help him heal. There is no other team in the final four that will have impact players like that return to their teams. This could be a huge turning point for Ohio State.

There is time to self-scout and fix issues

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Post-bye week, this team looked nothing like it did before. In the toughest games of the year, the performances weren’t stellar. The Penn State game should not have been as close as it was — same goes for Northwestern and Maryland. Blowout wins against Iowa and Indiana were nice but expected. It was clear the last game of the year wasn’t a great game for this team. Over the next three-plus weeks the work needs to be put in. Day needs to figure out why this happened and try to fix things. The scouting of tendencies for themselves and Georgia needs to be the best efforts of the players and staff. Now is the time to earn that title.

The ultimate goal is still within reach

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The season has been broken into four separate parts, win all games before the last game of the regular season. Win “The Game.” Win the conference. Win the College Football Playoff. Yes, two of those aren’t attainable but the ultimate goal, winning the CFP, is. This team is going to have to take the most difficult route to do so, knocking out the defending champs, Georgia, with a potential matchup against their rivals for a title. It obviously isn’t how we would like the Buckeyes to win a championship, but regardless, the opportunity is still there for them to win.

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Story originally appeared on Buckeye Wire