The Buckeyes slotted in at No. 14 in the latest College Football Playoff poll released on Tuesday. It was the second consecutive week Ohio State has lingered in the middle of the rankings.
Ohio State’s place in the title race has lingered in limbo since a loss to Virginia Tech at home in the second week of the season. The Buckeyes gorged themselves on cupcakes, scoring 50 more than points per contest in a four-game stretch against Kent State, Cincinnati, Maryland and Rutgers.
The College Football Playoff selection committee has thus far rewarded teams more for big wins than it has punished for disappointing showings. Playing in a conference where it receives almost no help in the strength of schedule department, Ohio State has been forced to wait until its Nov. 8 date with No. 8 Michigan State for a chance to make a statement.
“I think we’re lacking (a signature win) a little bit,” junior linebacker Joshua Perry said. “That win would mean a lot. Obviously it would be great for our goal. Since I’ve been here, we haven’t won a Big Ten Championship, and I know that we’d like to do that. To be able to go up there and win would obviously put us on the right track for doing that.”
For all intents and purposes, this is the last playoff poll where Ohio State will truly have to wonder where it stands. Beat Michigan State, and the Buckeyes will vault themselves into the conversation. A win would also all but secure a berth in the conference championship, guaranteeing another chance to garner a résumé-boosting triumph.
“This is a game to get the respect that Ohio State deserves and has had in the past,” Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer said. “You have to go compete and win this game, and it's going to be a task.”
A loss, on the other hand, would leave OSU still seeking a marquee win with virtually no chances left to capture one. There’s an outside chance a two-loss team could sneak into the playoff, but that team won’t be coming from the 2014 Big Ten.
College Football Playoff Rankings (Nov. 4)
1. Mississippi State
2. Florida State
7. Kansas State
8. Michigan State
9. Arizona State
10. Notre Dame
14. Ohio State
23. West Virginia
24. Georgia Tech