And with the College Football Playoff committee releasing its first rankings Tuesday night, the road to the four-team bracket is becoming ever clearer.
So as long as the Buckeyes are in the playoff race, BuckeyeSports.com has decided to put together our Playoff Digest. What does the Buckeyes ranking mean? What other games matter? What college football team makes the best Halloween snack?
These are the big questions of the day our panel of BSB editor Jeff Svoboda, writers Blake Williams and Ryan Ginn and intern Kane Anderson will attempt to answer each week. So sit back and enjoy the #hotsportstakes.
Is Ohio State’s ranking (16th) fair?
Ryan: If you go by the criteria laid out by the selection committee then it’s absolutely fair. For this ranking, at least, the committee appears to have grouped the Power 5 teams (Duke excluded) by amount of losses. For example, every two-loss Power 5 team is behind a one-loss team (again, except for the poor Blue Devils). If they’re looking at best wins as the crucial measurement, Ohio State has a long way to go in that department. A lot of teams in the top 25 have better wins than OSU’s best, which appears to be Maryland. Luckily for the Buckeyes, Michigan State and (possibly) Nebraska await.
Blake: Simply put, yes. The Buckeyes have a bad loss at home in Virginia Tech and their best win is … Maryland? Strength of schedule was a known point of emphasis for the committee, so Ohio State really can’t complain. All of the one-loss teams ranked ahead of the Buckeyes have either a good win (Auburn, Mississippi, Oregon, Michigan State, Arizona, etc.) or a less egregious loss (Kansas State, Notre Dame). Even Nebraska, the team I imagine most fans have the biggest gripe with, lost a close game to Michigan State, even if the Spartans fell asleep in the second half. No. 16 is fair.
Kane: I think Ohio State’s ranking is fair. The Virginia Tech loss looks worse and worse each week and that obviously factors in. With Notre Dame just in the top 10 even though it had the “most impressive loss” at Florida State, I was not surprised to see the Buckeyes at No. 16 on the first poll after that loss to a now struggling Hokies team. Just coming off a tough game against Penn State didn’t help either. Even though it was a crazy environment, Penn State is not a good team and Ohio State let the Nittany Lions hang around the whole game. A top-10 team wouldn’t do that.
Jeff: I’m surprised it’s so low, honestly, but I think it’s fair. The Buckeyes haven’t beaten a ranked team yet, the Virginia Tech loss looks worse by the week and teams like Navy and Cincinnati aren’t helping either. It’s far too early to panic, with November sure to be a wild month, and the Buckeyes can add quality wins at Michigan State and in the Big Ten title game. There’s still a solid chance the Big Ten champion ends up in this playoff.
A #hotsportstake on the CFP rankings…
Ryan: People who think multiple teams from the SEC West are getting into the playoff are insane. The only way the conference is getting two teams into the playoff is if Georgia runs the table and beats unbeaten Mississippi State or one-loss Alabama in the SEC title game. Either Auburn or Ole Miss will get a second loss this weekend and both still have to play their rival after that. Alabama (one loss) still has to play LSU, Mississippi State and Auburn. It’s about to be a bloodbath. Relax.
Blake: I strive to be rational so the #hotsportstake may not be my strong suit, but let’s spin this in the positive. Having Nebraska ranked ahead of Ohio State is a good thing. If the Huskers keep winning and the teams ahead of them fall (they will), Nebraska will enter the Big Ten Championship Game in or near the top 10. If Ohio State beats Michigan State (and the Spartans don’t lose another game) a conference championship win over a highly respected team might be just what the Buckeyes need to propel them into the top four and a spot in the playoff.
Kane: Looking at the rankings, two Big Ten teams were placed ahead of Ohio State. Nebraska (15) and Michigan State (8) both find themselves above the Buckeyes. This means the opportunity is there for the Buckeyes to move up in the rankings by the end of the season. If Ohio State wins at Michigan State, they should go on to win the East and play in the Big Ten Championship Game. The Buckeyes need to hope Nebraska wins out to meet them in that game. That gives them the opportunity for another high-profile win against a highly ranked team. The Buckeyes aren’t dead yet.
Jeff: Fifth-ranked Oregon is the most overrated team in the top five and will not make the playoff. I’ll give them some credit for the Michigan State win, but the Ducks got whupped at home by Arizona, yet another in a long line of surprising losses that seem to hit Oregon on a year-in, year-out basis. I don’t think the UCLA win is that great, and the Ducks still have to take out annual nemesis Stanford and win at Utah before the Pac-12 title game. I don’t see it happening.
Compare one team to … Halloween candy!
Ryan: The Florida State Seminoles are Haribo Sugar Free Gummy Bears, a normally enjoyable treat ruined by a toxic ingredient that wreaks unthinkable havoc on, um, stomachs. Gummy Bears are the best, but the presence of lycasin appears to have made otherwise unlikable candies (Junior Mints, am I right?) tolerable by comparison. Just like a certain QB that has the country suddenly rooting for the likes of Notre Dame and Bobby Petrino!
Blake: Every year there is candy corn and yet I don’t know anyone who enjoys it (I certainly don’t). That yellow, orange and white cone doesn’t seem to care that we are all tired of it and just keeps popping up and dominating the holiday. We might as well change the colors to white and crimson, because like candy corn, Alabama isn’t going anywhere.
Kane: I think TCU is a caramel apple lollipop. It’s nice that the Horned Frogs are ranked at No. 7, but then you look at their body of work and realize that they are a pretty darn good team. Just like when all you can taste is green apple on that first lick of a caramel apple pop, but then you get to the caramel and realize it’s a pretty strong candy after all.
Jeff: Alabama is the toothbrush the old couple down the street puts in your bag every year. Yes, it probably deserves to be in there, but it’s like, REALLY? AGAIN?
This weekend’s upset alert
Ryan: Mississippi State. I have no logical reason to think this would happen, but isn’t that what upset alert is all about? Pesky things like facts and data don’t appear to support this conclusion, but losing his first 12 SEC games and then beating the No. 1 team in the country just feels like something that would happen to Bret Bielema.
Blake: TCU. Asking the Horned Frogs to travel to West Virginia for a late afternoon game that will be played in the low 50s with rain is a tall order. Sure, they just got done putting up 82 points, but the poor weather and fans in Morgantown will slow the TCU attack, as much as that is possible, and it’s not like the Frogs can stop anybody.
Kane: I’m tempted to choose Stanford over Oregon because that always seems to happen, but I will put Notre Dame on upset alert against Navy. This could be a trap game for the Irish as they head to Arizona State next week for a highly anticipated matchup. The Midshipmen always seem to give Notre Dame a tough game and I think it happens again.
Jeff: I want to pick like 10, but I’m going big lest I go home … Florida State at Louisville. It’s tough to win in the Derby City at night, the Cardinals are in the top 25 and I just have a feeling karma comes rolling down on the Noles at some point. So I’m picking upset tonight.
This Week’s Relevant Jeff Long Quote
"I wouldn't call (the Virginia Tech loss) an albatross, but it was not a good loss. Ohio State has opportunities on its schedule to play up, as many of these teams do. We're still early in this process. While I wouldn't get that excited about Ohio State's placement, we do think based on the other teams they have played to this point, this is where they deserve to be ranked."
There are currently nine regular-season games left that match up two teams above Ohio State in the rankings. These are those games.
Nov. 1: (3) Auburn at (4) Ole Miss
Nov. 8: (9) Kansas State at (7) TCU
Nov. 8: (10) Notre Dame at (14) Arizona State
Nov. 15: (1) Mississippi State at (6) Alabama
Nov. 15: (3) Auburn at (11) Georgia
Nov. 28: (12) Arizona at (14) Arizona State
Nov. 29: (1) Mississippi State at (4) Ole Miss
Nov. 29: (3) Auburn at (6) Alabama
Dec. 6: (9) Kansas State at (13) Baylor
Scout’s team capsules