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Someday, BYU administrators may thank Urban Meyer for all of this.
Meyer's Ohio State team provided at least some degree of hope for BYU regarding Big 12 expansion by claiming the No. 4 spot in the inaugural College Football Playoff, ahead of Big 12 members Baylor and TCU. The Buckeyes clearly took advantage of an opportunity to make a big impression by crushing Wisconsin 59-0 in the Big Ten championship game Saturday, while Big 12 schools were concluding their regular season.
Some portion of BYU's hopes for the future were attached to the Big 12's being left out of the playoffs, based on the conference's lack of a championship game. Now, two disclaimers come into play. If the Big 12 determines that a title game is necessary, officials could seek a waiver from the NCAA, enabling them to stage the event with a 10-team league. And if the Big 12 expands, there's certainly no guarantee BYU would be included.
What's clear is that Ohio State created some possibilities for BYU and other schools by crashing the top four. ESPN analyst Danny Kanell's suggestion to the Big 12, via Twitter: Ask Cincinnati, BYU, Central Florida and East Carolina, and take the first two schools that accept the invitations.
It would make a great story if BYU's eventual move was driven by Meyer's work. As Utah's coach, Meyer ended the Cougars' 361-game scoring streak with a 2003 shutout in Provo and then punctuated a 52-21 victory the following year by having a defensive tackle take a handoff and run for a late touchdown.
Meyer's Big Ten title-game showing, produced by a third-string quarterback, was enough to persuade the CFP selection committee to elevate the Buckeyes to the semifinals. Ohio State will meet Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and Pac-12 champion Oregon will face Florida State in the Rose Bowl.
The committee faced tough choices among OSU, TCU and Baylor. Some observers will cite that dilemma to push for an eight-team playoff. My thinking is that the competition for the four spots made for one of college football's best regular seasons in recent history. Having other high-quality teams in the mix also will enhance the other New Year's Six bowls.