INDIANAPOLIS — He waited to say it, but Jeff Heuerman made it clear whether or not he feels Ohio State should make the first-ever College Football Playoff.
“I’ve kept my mouth shut about that for a very long time, but I’m done with that,” the senior tight end said after the Buckeyes locked up their 35th Big Ten Championship. “We’re definitely one of the top four teams in the country.”
OSU — ranked No. 5 in the College Football Playoff standings — shutout No. 13 Wisconsin, 59-0, in the Big Ten title game Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium, but all four teams ranked ahead of the Buckeyes won over the weekend as well.
But the Buckeyes’ win came under unusual circumstances, as the player starting the game at quarterback was third on the depth chart two weeks before the season started. Saturday’s win also came less than a week after the team learned of the death of walk-on defensive lineman Kosta Karageorge.
Redshirt-sophomore quarterback Cardale Jones — starting in place of the injured redshirt-freshman J.T. Barrett — said the win was a “huge statement” for the playoff selection committee.
“I mean, we played a great, great team, the No. 2 defense in the country,” Jones said after the game. “We put up 59 points on them.”
OSU also found a way to stymie Wisconsin redshirt-junior running back Melvin Gordon — the nation’s top rusher this season. The Buckeyes held Gordon to just 76 yards on the ground, and held him without a touchdown for the first time since Wisconsin’s win over Western Illinois in its second game of the season.
With dominating numbers on both sides of the ball, Heuerman said he simply doesn’t see a logical scenario that would keep OSU out of the playoffs.
“Come in here and play the 13th-ranked team in the country, No. 1 in the Big Ten in defense, come in here and put up those kind of numbers,” Heuerman said. “Defensively you look at what we did tonight with a Heisman Trophy candidate (Gordon) who’s held to 76 yards and didn’t put up one single point, I don’t know how you don’t put us in the top four, honestly.”
OSU coach Urban Meyer — who won two national titles under the BCS-bowl format while he was the coach at Florida — said the selection committee has a difficult task, but added he feels like the Buckeyes are playing as well as the other top teams in the country.
“All I can speak to is I’ve been around teams that have competed and won national championships,” Meyer said after the game. “This team, the way it’s playing right now, is one of the top teams in America.”
Coming into the game, OSU was ranked behind No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Oregon, No. 3 Texas Christian University and No. 4 Florida State. With all four of those teams winning along with the Buckeyes, OSU would have to jump one of them in order to make the playoffs.
Confronted with the idea of missing out on a chance to compete for a national championship, Heuerman stressed that he feels the Buckeyes deserve to be in the top four.
“I don’t even want to think about not being in the top four,” He said. “Like I said, I think we’re a top-four team in the country, I don’t think there’s any doubt about that and the College Football (Playoff) committee, they watched that game, I don’t know how any of them say we’re not.”
Heuerman added the Buckeyes’ big win came against a top-notch opponent.
“We didn’t come in and play a slouch of a football team today, they were a good football team,” he said. “And the way we came in and executed, it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen, honestly. And like I said, I don’t think there’s any way you don’t put us in the top four.”
The Buckeyes are scheduled to learn their postseason fate on Sunday. The College Football Playoff selection show is set to begin at 12:30 p.m.
The College Football Playoff rankings were decided by a panel of 12 members, including Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez, Lt. Gen. Mike Gould and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. In total, the panel is set to consist of 13 members, but former Mississippi and NFL quarterback Archie Manning is taking a leave of absence because of health concerns.
The top four teams at season’s end are scheduled to compete in the College Football Playoff.