‘It’s a new season’: Ohio State headed to College Football Playoff

Fourth-ranked Buckeyes will face No. 1 Georgia in semifinals

COLUMBUS -- Ohio State is going back to the College Football Playoff.

The Buckeyes are No. 4 in the final CFP Committee rankings revealed Sunday afternoon.

They will travel to Atlanta to face No. 1 Georgia on Dec. 31 in the Peach Bowl. The game will kick off at 8 p.m. after No. 2 Michigan takes on No. 3 TCU at the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz., at 4 p.m.

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It’s an opportunity that seemed out of reach after the Buckeyes were beaten soundly by Michigan a week ago, but the door opened Friday night when No. 11 Utah smashed then-No. 4 USC 47-24 in the Pac-12 Championship game.

When No. 3 TCU lost 31-28 to No. 10 Kansas State in the Big 12 Championship Game, Ohio State rising to No. 3 appeared at least possible.

That would have set up an unprecedented rematch with Michigan, but CFP Chair Boo Corrigan told ESPN the committee ranked the Horned Frogs third again this week based on their overall body of work and an improving defense and there was no desire to avoid pitting the Buckeyes and Wolverines against each other in back-to-back games.

“It really wasn’t discussed as we went into it,” said Corrigan, who is the director of athletics at N.C. State. “Our goal was to get the top four teams right.”

Ohio State head coach Ryan Day and his team will take it for sure.

“When you saw the name come up, it was just a shot of adrenaline through the whole building,” Day said Sunday. “The goal was to be in the CFP at this point. That was it at the start of the season. And here we are. A strange way to get here, but that’s it at the end of the day. So it’s a new season and you learn from the past.”

Ohio State is in the CFP for the fifth time. The Buckeyes won the inaugural edition to conclude the 2014 season, lost in the semifinals in 2016 and ‘19 and lost in the championship game in 2020.

Georgia is in the playoff for the third time. The Bulldogs are 2-0 in the semifinals and 1-1 in the final after beating Alabama 33-18 last season in the national championship game.

That was a rematch of the that season’s SEC Championship game, a 41-24 win by the Crimson Tide in early December.

Day cited that precedent as reason for his team to believe it can recover from the deflating loss to the Wolverines to still stand atop the college football landscape when all is said and done.

The No. 4 seed is 2-6 in playoff games but has won the championship twice: Ohio State in 2014 and Alabama in 2017.

That Crimson Tide team also lost its last regular season game (to rival Auburn) and missed its conference championship game before rallying to sweep the playoff.

Ohio State is 2-2 in postseason games under Day.

The Buckeyes lost to Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl as part of the 2019 playoff but beat the Tigers a year later in a playoff rematch in the Sugar Bowl.

Ohio State lost to Alabama in the National Championship game at the end of the 2020 season and beat Utah in the Rose Bowl last season.

Ohio State has only played the Bulldogs once — a 21-14 Georgia win in the Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1, 1993.

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