COLUMBUS â€” Another Big Ten championship year will end for Ohio State short of the College Football Playoff.
The consolation prize? A trip to the Rose Bowl.
After closing the regular season with a dominant win over rival Michigan and then pulling away for a comfortable win over Northwestern on Saturday night in the conference title game, the Buckeyes still didnâ€™t make a strong enough impression on the selection committee to earn a spot in the four-team field.
Despite strong arguments in head-to-head comparisons with both Notre Dame and Oklahoma, Ohio State didnâ€™t get the nod for the second consecutive year even after surviving arguably the toughest division in college football and winning one of the strongest leagues overall. And for the third year in a row, the Big Ten champ wonâ€™t play for a national title, which might again prompt pushes to overhaul the system and potentially lead to expansion.
That wonâ€™t help the Buckeyes now, of course. So, Urban Meyer will get to make his first visit to Pasadena and Ohio State will face Washington in the traditional matchup against the Pac-12 champions, which also echoes last season when the program faced USC in the Cotton Bowl.
The Buckeyes made their final case with a 45-24 win over Northwestern in Lucas Oil Stadium, riding another epic performance from quarterback Dwayne Haskins and an opportunistic defense to add to the programâ€™s trophy case. And they didnâ€™t hold back from the celebration in a boisterous locker room after the victory even with the uncertainty swirling around them in the College Football Playoff race.
From the players to the coaches, Ohio State felt it had done enough to earn an invitation after being snubbed last year â€” but also made it no secret they would embrace a chance to play in one of the most storied bowl games on the schedule.
â€œIâ€™ve never coached in that game,â€ Meyer said during his postgame press conference. â€œKirk Herbstreit and I talk about it all the time. So, if thatâ€™s where we end up, weâ€™d be so proud to be there.
â€œAnd I know our players would feel the same.â€
That ticket is officially punched now.
Ohio State is Rose Bowl bound.