Playoff Digest: Ohio State's Big Leap

Ohio State hopped from 14th to eighth in the College Football Playoff rankings after OSU beat then-No. 8 Michigan State and four top-10 teams lost. Is that a fair spot? And which college football team can be compared to anchovies on a pizza? We have all the answers.

Ohio State's win over Michigan State did more than put the Buckeyes on the cusp of a trip to Indianapolis; it put the team in the thick of the College Football Playoff rankings at No. 8 this week, OSU's first appearance in the top 10.

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 pizza topping?

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 (8th) fair?
Ryan: Mostly. I would have ripped off a massive diatribe had the Buckeyes been ranked behind the two-loss SEC teams (Mississippi and Auburn) but that’s not the case so there’s not much to be outraged about. I think Ohio State could be ranked as high as sixth given what it showed in the Michigan State beatdown, but at the end of the day a couple of the teams that are above the Buckeyes still play each other and the Big Ten hasn’t done the Buckeyes any favors and there is the matter of that loss to Virginia Tech still existing. So eighth is mostly fine for now, but I think this is the floor for Ohio State going forward.

Blake: For the third week in a row I think it is. The Buckeyes got a big win last weekend, exactly what they needed to move up the rankings. Yes, they are still behind five one-loss teams, but when you look at the resumes for Oregon, TCU, Alabama, Arizona State and Baylor, it seems to make sense. Those teams all have a less egregious loss than the Buckeyes and/or more quality wins. Ohio State jumped six spots, passing the four teams ahead of them that lost and jumping Nebraska (no quality wins) and Mississippi (two losses). That looks right to me.

Kane: I guess Ohio State’s ranking is fair. Being ranked eighth is nothing to get upset over, but I kind of thought the Buckeyes would at least get to seven. With Ohio State getting the victory over Michigan State, the two of them basically switched spots in the rankings. What would be interesting is to know is, if Michigan State had won in the fashion Ohio State did, what the Spartans’ ranking would be this week. Surely they would have moved up from their eighth spot if they had won, but instead the Buckeyes just take their place from the previous week. Goes to show how much that Virginia Tech loss still hurts.

Jeff: Yes, absolutely. Last week, I said that people had reason to concern if the Buckeyes beat Michigan State and didn't hop any two-loss teams, but lo and behold, here are the Buckeyes, above every other two-loss squad. So that's a relief for Ohio State fans, and to be honest, the Buckeyes still probably have the worst CV of those one-loss teams. Everyone above Ohio State has more big wins, so I'll take eighth and run with it, knowing there's a very strong likelihood four teams above OSU will lose the rest of the season. Right now, I feel very strongly that if the Buckeyes take care of business, they'll be in the final four.

A #hotsportstake on the CFP rankings…
Ryan: I’m so sick of people griping about teams dropping after an off week. That’s an incredibly dumb way to look at it. Instead, think about it as that team being passed by another team who bolstered its résumé. If you’re complaining about Nebraska dropping in a week when it didn’t play, newsflash: Ohio State is one of the teams that passed the Huskers! Are you really trying to argue that Ohio State shouldn’t move past Nebraska just because of an off week? Don’t be stupid. If a team nabs a quality win, they could and should be rewarded for it.

Blake: Nebraska’s ranking was a disappointing one for Big Ten fans. As the conference’s only one-loss team aside from Ohio State, the Cornhuskers sit at No. 16 behind seven two-loss teams. Not only is that ranking fair because of its lack of quality wins, but Nebraska will be a top-10 team if they reach the Big Ten title game. That’s what Ohio State fans should care about as another shot at a top-10 team in Indianapolis, and the Cornhuskers are three wins from being that. A victory over No. 20 Wisconsin will vault them above some of those two-loss teams and a victory over No. 25 Minnesota the following week will get them into the top 10. Sure, the Gophers wont still be ranked if they lose to Ohio State, but the fact that they are now means the committee will respect that win.

Kane: This is the second straight week Ohio State will play a common opponent of a team ranked ahead of them. Oregon beat Michigan State in Eugene back in week two and TCU won at home against Minnesota in week three. After this weekend the consensus seemed to be that Ohio State’s win in East Lansing was more impressive than the Ducks’ victory over the Spartans. Now if Ohio State wins convincingly over the newly ranked Gophers in Minneapolis then it will be another thing for the committee to look at and add to the notion that the Buckeyes are the hottest team in the nation.

Jeff: Four different conferences will be represented in the inaugural College Football Playoff, which is one way of saying the SEC will have only one team. Alabama/Mississippi State will deal another loss into the mix this week with those two teams still to play their rivals, plus the SEC Championship Game in the cards. I just don't see how two teams are gonna survive that mess and look good enough to make the field. Plus I think the Pac-12 champ is in with the high rankings of Oregon and Arizona State, and Florida State seems to be a shoo-in if it doesn't trip up. Then there's the leaders of the Big 12 (TCU) and Big Ten (OSU) vulturing there as well if someone does stumble. I just don't see how the SEC gets two.

Compare one team to … a pizza topping!
Ryan: Notre Dame is anchovies. You either love ’em or you hate ’em, and, well, most people hate ’em.

Blake: Have you seen that Fritos Chilli Pizza that Papa John’s is trotting out there? Look, I like Fritos and I like pizza, but that doesn’t mean they need to go together. Sorry Mississippi State, but you’re the Fritos on my playoff pizza. I’ve never been to Starkville, I’m sure it’s lovely, but I didn’t need the Bulldogs in my college football life and it doesn’t make sense to me. Then again, I haven’t tried the pizza; maybe it’s great.

Kane: Alabama is cheese. Alabama will probably always remain in the playoff picture every year that Nick Saban is its coach and cheese will always be on a pizza (unless you’re allergic to dairy, like I am). At this point we all need to realize that Alabama will always be a staple to the committee.

Jeff: TCU is salami. Have you ever had salami on a pizza? It's kinda like pepperoni, but it's different. It's a little sweeter, a little tastier. It can be a tremendous addition, most notably at Hound Dog's just north of the Ohio State campus. In this case, TCU is similar to some of the teams we've seen in the running in the past, but it's a little different. Not many people know about it. But there it is, getting the job done when called upon. (And yes, I picked TCU for the playoff before the season. I also picked Michigan State last weekend but LAY OFF ME OK.)

This weekend’s upset alert
Ryan: LSU. I would bet pretty much everything I own that the Tigers lose to Arkansas this week. (Note: I am terrible at dispensing gambling advice, but I promise I’m right about this one. Probably.) The week after Alabama is never a good one for LSU.

Blake: Florida State should be wary of its trip to Miami this weekend. The Hurricanes are just 6-3, but they’ve won their last three games by an average of 24 points and are undefeated at home. If anything can get the Miami fans off the beach and in the stands, it’s a night game with No. 3 FSU. The Seminoles have looked vulnerable at times this season and will again Saturday.

Kane: As much as I hate to say it, I would not be surprised at all to see Maryland hold strong at home against Michigan State. The Spartans have to be let down after the loss to the Buckeyes and the Terrapins will be looking for a season-defining win. Playing in College Park at night could give them the edge.

Jeff: I think most people are gonna say Florida State, but why not Arizona State? Sparky's coming off a big win vs. Notre Dame and must now trip to what promises to be dreary Corvallis. This fits the "trap game" bill as much as OSU/Minnesota.

Elimination Games
When the first CFP rankings came out, there were nine games matching up teams ranked above Ohio State, aka nine guaranteed losses above the Buckeyes. Since then, three of those games have been played. Now, there's only one left. Always remember kids: College football is crazy.

Nov. 15: (1) Mississippi State at (5) Alabama

Other top-15 dual matchups Nov. 15: (9) Auburn at (15) Georgia
Nov. 28: (14) Arizona at (6) Arizona State
Nov. 29: (1) Mississippi State at (10) Ole Miss
Nov. 29: (9) Auburn at (5) Alabama
Dec. 6: (13) Kansas State at (7) Baylor


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