Where would Ohio State have been in the Playoff era if already in a 12-team format

·7 min read

In case you missed the news this week, the College Football Playoff is contemplating expanding to a 12-team model as early as 2023. There’s still a lot of work to do, and it has to be approved, but it sure feels like this train is steaming out of the station to the next expansion destination.

Ohio State has been a fixture in the playoff since the inaugural season of 2014, winning the first-ever CFP and being a part of all the fun of the four-team format five out of eight years so far.

But what if the CFP was a 12-team affair to begin with? Where would Ohio state have been each year from 2014 through last season? Would it have been included in every year? What would the seeding have been, and what teams would the Buckeyes have potentially matched up with?

We are here to answer all of those questions. But first, let’s get some things out of the way. We’re going through this exercise with the understanding that things will look similar to the chatter we’ve heard if it becomes reality. That means the highest-ranked top-four conference champions get seeded one through four, with each receiving a first-round bye. It also means that we’ll be using the final regular-season College Football Playoff Rankings as our guide as well.

All of that aside, let’s get after it. Here is what everything would look like if the College Football Playoff were actually a playoff and not an “and-one” we’ve all been fooled into believing was more than it was.

2014 - Actual CFP Champion (Ohio State)

Ohio State and Alabama are set to do battle tomorrow night in the CFP title game. Here's how Alabama fans see the matchup with the Buckeyes.
Ohio State and Alabama are set to do battle tomorrow night in the CFP title game. Here's how Alabama fans see the matchup with the Buckeyes.

Ohio State's Ezekiel Elliott breaks away from Alabama defenders on an 85-yard touchdown jaunt in the 2015 Sugar Bowl. Credit: USA TODAY Sports

How it all would have looked

Ohio State - No. 4 seed (actual: No. 4 seed)

The top-four seeds receiving byes

No. 1 seed - Alabama Crimson Tide (12-1, SEC Champion) No. 2 seed - Oregon Ducks (12-1, Pac-12 Champion) No. 3 seed - Florida State Seminoles (13-0, ACC Champion) No. 4 seed - Ohio State Buckeyes (12-1, Big Ten Champion)

The rest of the field

No. 5 Baylor (11-1), Big 12 vs. No. 12 Georgia Tech (10-3), ACC No. 6 TCU (11-1), Big 12 vs. No. 11 Kansas State (9-3), Big 12 No. 7 Mississippi State (10-2), SEC vs. No. 10 Arizona (10-3), Pac-12 No. 8 Michigan State (10-2), Big Ten vs. No. 9 Ole Miss (9-3), SEC

2015 - Actual CFP Champion (Alabama)

Alabama quarterback Jake Coker (14) celebrates following the final touchdown against Clemson in the College Football Playoff Championship Game on Monday January 11, 2016 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Az. Credit: USA TODAY Sports

How it all would have looked

Ohio State - No. 7 seed (actual: missed playoff)

The top-four seeds receiving byes

No. 1 seed - Clemson Tigers (13-0, ACC Champion) No. 2 seed - Alabama Crimson Tide (12-1, SEC Champion) No. 3 seed - Michigan State Spartans (12-1, Big Ten Champion) No. 4 seed - Oklahoma Sooners (11-1, Big 12 Champion)

The rest of the field

No. 5 Iowa (12-1), Big Ten vs. No. 12 Ole Miss (9-3), SEC No. 6 Stanford (11-2), Pac-12 vs. No. 11 TCU (10-2), Big 12 No. 7 Ohio State (11-1), Big Ten vs. No. 10 North Carolina (11-2), ACC No. 8 Notre Dame (10-2), Independent vs. No. 9 Florida State (10-2), ACC

2016 - Actual Champion (Clemson)

Jan 9, 2017; Tampa, FL, USA; in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at Raymond James Stadium. Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

How it all would have looked

Ohio State - No. 5 seed (actual: No. 3 seed)

The top-four seeds receiving byes

No. 1 seed - Alabama Crimson Tide (13-0, SEC Champion) No. 2 seed - Clemson Tigers (12-1, ACC Champion) No. 3 seed - Washington Huskies (12-1, Pac-12 Champion) No. 4 seed - Penn State Nittany Lions (11-2, Big Ten Champion)

The rest of the field

No. 5 Ohio State (11-1), Big Ten vs. No. 12 Oklahoma State (9-3), Big 12 No. 6 Michigan (10-2), Big Ten vs. No. 11 Florida State (9-3), ACC No. 7 Oklahoma (10-2), Big 12 vs. No. 10 Colorado (10-3), Pac-12 No. 8 Wisconsin (10-3), Big Ten vs. No. 9 USC (9-3), Pac-12

2017 - Actual Champion (Alabama)

Alabama players celebrate with Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith (6) after his game winning touchdown catch in the College Football Playoff National Championship game, Jan. 8, 2018 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Alabama defeated Georgia in overtime 26-23. [Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]

How it all would have looked

Ohio State - No. 4 seed (actual: missed playoff)

The top-four seeds receiving byes

No. 1 seed - Clemson Tigers (12-1, ACC Champion) No. 2 seed - Oklahoma Sooners (12-1, Big 12 Champion) No. 3 seed - Georgia Bulldogs (12-1, SEC Champion) No. 4 seed - Ohio State Buckeyes (11-2, Big Ten Champion)

The rest of the field

No. 5 Alabama (11-1), SEC vs. No. 12 UCF (12-0), American No. 6 Wisconsin (12-1), Big Ten vs. No. 11 Washington (10-2), Pac-12 No. 7 Auburn (10-3), SEC vs. No. 10 Miami (FL) (10-2), ACC No. 8 USC (11-2), Pac-12 vs. No. 9 Penn State (10-2), Big Ten

2018 - Actual Champion (Clemson)

Clemson offensive lineman Sean Pollard (76) and running back Darien Rencher (21) join teammates in the alma mater after the Tigers beat Alabama 44-16 to win the National Championship after the College Football Championship game at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California Monday, January 7, 2019. Credit: USA TODAY Sports

How it all would have looked

Ohio State - No. 4 seed (actual: missed playoff)

The top-four seeds receiving byes

No. 1 seed - Alabama Crimson Tide (13-0, SEC Champion) No. 2 seed - Clemson Tigers (13-0, ACC Champion) No. 3 seed - Oklahoma Sooners (12-1, Big 12 Champion) No. 4 seed - Ohio State Buckeyes (12-1, Big Ten Champion)

The rest of the field

No. 5 Notre Dame (12-0), Independent vs. No. 12 Penn State (9-3), Big Ten No. 6 Georgia (11-2), SEC vs. No. 11 LSU (9-3), SEC No. 7 Michigan (10-2), Big Ten vs. No. 10 Florida (9-3), SEC No. 8 UCF (12-0), American vs. No. 9 Washington (10-3), Pac-12

2019 - Actual Champion (LSU)

LSU quarterback Joe Burrow (9) hugs supporters after their victory against Clemson at the College Football National Championship game at the Mercedes Benz Superdome Monday, Jan. 13, 2020.
Credit: USA TODAY Sports

How it all would have looked

Ohio State - No. 4 seed (actual: No. 2 seed)

The top-four seeds receiving byes

No. 1 seed - LSU Tigers (13-0, SEC Champion) No. 2 seed - Ohio State Buckeyes (13-0, Big Ten Champion) No. 3 seed - Clemson Tigers (13-0, ACC Champion) No. 4 seed - Oklahoma Sooners (12-1, Big 12 Champion)

The rest of the field

No. 5 Georgia (11-2), SEC vs. No. 12 Auburn (9-3), SEC No. 6 Oregon (11-2), Pac-12 vs. No. 11 Utah (11-2), Pac-12 No. 7 Baylor (11-2), Big 12 vs. No. 10 Penn State (10-2), Big Ten No. 8 Wisconsin (10-3), Big Ten vs. No. 9 Florida (10-2), SEC

2020 - Actual Champion (Alabama)

Alabama players wear History Made t-shirts as they celebrate after defeating Ohio State for the National Championship Jan. 11, 2021. Quarterback Mac Jones holds the championship trophy while wearing one of the t-shirts during the trophy presentation. [Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]

How it all would have looked

Ohio State - No. 4 seed (actual: No. 2 seed)

The top-four seeds receiving byes

No. 1 seed - Alabama Crimson Tide (11-0, SEC Champion) No. 2 seed - Clemson Tigers (10-1, ACC Champion) No. 3 seed - Ohio State Buckeyes (6-0, Big Ten Champion) No. 4 seed - Oklahoma Sooners (8-2, Big 12 Champion)

The rest of the field

No. 5 Notre Dame (10-1), Ind. vs. No. 12 Coastal Carolina (11-0), Sun Belt No. 6 Texas A&M (8-1), SEC vs. No. 11 Indiana (6-1), Big Ten No. 7 Florida (8-3), SEC vs. No. 10 Iowa State (8-3), Big 12 No. 8 Cincinnati (9-0), American vs. No. 9 Georgia (7-2), SEC [listicle id=51551] Contact/Follow us @BuckeyesWire on Twitter, and like our page on Facebook to follow ongoing coverage of Ohio State news, notes and opinion.

1

1