Yesterday was a good day for Ohio State. First, the basketball team clobbered Marquette in a game that included multiple dunks by Amir Williams. And just before, the football team moved up two spots in the playoff rankings, and now sits at No 6. Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, assuming they beat Indiana and make it to the Big Ten Championship Game, there are only three games left in the regular season. They're probably going to need a little help if they're going to make the top four.
So, who do Ohio State fans need to be rooting for the rest of the season? Who is most likely to trip up and help the Buckeyes move up a little bit more? Let's handicap the rest of the field.
No. 1 Alabama (9-1)
Remaining Schedule: Western Carolina, No.14 Auburn, SEC Championship Game (against either No. 10 Georgia or No. 20 Missouri)
Best Wins: No. 4 Mississippi State. That's a great win. But after that, the pickings get surprisingly slim.
Worst Loss: at No. 8 Ole Miss. Not really a bad loss.
The Skinny: Rooting for Alabama is never fun, and this year's Tide has looked surprisingly mortal compared to recent Alabama squads, needing a blocked PAT to beat a lousy Arkansas team,and overtime to beat an average LSU squad. They could absolutely lose to Auburn, which, if Ole Miss beats Mississippi State, would leave every SEC contender with two losses. That would be fun for #TeamChaos, and leaves the possibility open that the committee could go Florida State, Oregon, Big 12 champ, Ohio State -- but given the respect the SEC has in the eyes of both the committee and America, I think it's more likely a two loss champ, no matter who it is, finds their way in.
Alabama stumbling probably isn't critical to helping Ohio State, but feel free to root against Alabama anyway, because them losing is funny, Ohio State doesn't want to play them in the playoffs, and because Lane Kiffin.
No. 2 Oregon (9-1)
Remaining Schedule: Colorado, at Oregon State, Pac-12 Championship Game (likely either No. 9 UCLA or No. 13 Arizona State)
Best Wins: at No. 9 UCLA, No. 11 Michigan State, at No. 17 Utah
Worst Loss: No. 15 Arizona
The Skinny: An Oregon loss knocks them out of the playoff and probably the Pac-12 with it, but it is tough to find one here. Colorado has played a lot of Pac-12 teams tough, but should be totally overmatched against the Ducks, and while weird things happen in Corvallis (ask Arizona State), and that is a big rivalry game, it would be a big surprised for the Beavers to come away with an upset there.
The Ducks could certainly lose in the Pac-12 title game, but even though UCLA is playing better now, Oregon handled them convincingly the first time, and Arizona State has some flaws of their own.
Root hard against the Ducks in the Civil War and at Levi's Stadium, but the best upset chances are probably still farther down the board.
No. 3 Florida State (10-0)
Remaining Schedule: Boston College, Florida, ACC Championship game (likely Duke or No. 18 Georgia Tech).
Best Wins: Technically, that's at No. 24 Louisville.
Worst Loss: Dammit.
The Skinny: The good news for Ohio State fans is that Florida State's schedule has fallen apart so dramatically that should the Seminoles lose one of these three games, Ohio State will probably be able to pass them, no matter how badly #FSUTwitter wails.
Of course, it isn't really Florida State's fault that a non-conference schedule with Oklahoma State, Notre Dame and Florida fell apart so quickly, but it did, and the rest of the ACC may be even worse than the Big Ten, so here we are. Given Florida State's penchant for playing like crap in the first half, and because you can run the football on Florida State a little bit, it's possible one of these three teams could ugly the game up enough and win a close one, but c'mon. We've all watched FSU this year. Even if BC runs for 280 yards in the first half and builds a 27-point lead, the 'Noles are coming back to win by 2, and we'll all hate them just a little bit more.
Ohio State fans should vigorously root against Florida State over their last three games, but you didn't need me to tell you to do that.
No. 4 Mississippi State (9-1)
Remaining Schedule: Vanderbilt, at No. 8 Ole Miss
Best Win: No. 14 Auburn, in a rapidly deteriorating strength of schedule
Worst Loss: at No. 1 Alabama. I mean, they've only lost once, you guys.
The Skinny: There is an argument, and one that will be repeatedly made by SEC homers, that should State beat the Rebels and finish the season 11-1, they ought to grab the last playoff spot. That's possible, but I'm personally skeptical of it. The committee has said that they value both strength of schedule, and conference championships, and should Alabama beat Auburn and State beat Ole Miss, they'll be left with a top 20-ish win, a top 15-ish win, a terrible out of conference slate, and no championship. It would be hard to elevate them over a Big 12 or an Ohio State team. But, since the committee is making this up as they go along, who knows?
Better that Ole Miss wins and removes all doubt. Go Ackbars.
No. 5 TCU (9-1)
Remaining Schedule: at Texas, Iowa State
Best Wins: No. 12 Kansas State, No. 21 Oklahoma, No. 25 Minnesota
Worst Loss: at No. 7 Baylor
The Skinny: TCU has done a great job running through the Big 12 and putting them in position to make a strike at the playoff. Unfortunately for them, they've already played their toughest games, and with Baylor still having Kansas State on the schedule, it's possible the Bears could jump them. It's also possible that Texas, with a revamped defense and nothing else to play for, could end all this Big 12 speculation and just ruin the Horned Frog's season with a win. That's what Ohio State fans ought to pull for. Otherwise, prepare to hear a lot of talking about Minnesota.
No. 7 Baylor (8-1)
Remaining Schedule: Oklahoma State, at Texas Tech, No. 12 Kansas State
Best Wins: No. 5 TCU, at No. 21 Oklahoma
Worst Loss: at West Virginia
The Skinny: Baylor may be ranked behind Ohio State right now, but that doesn't mean that won't change, especially if the Bears run the table and pick up a win against the Kansas State Wildcats. Baylor doesn't have a conference championship game, and they scheduled SMU, the Electoral College, and Popcorn State in out of conference play, but a high flying offense and a big win against fellow playoff contender TCU may help them overcome that. Still a pretty good chance that either Kansas State or Oklahoma State finds a way to spring an upset here, and Ohio State fans should root heartily for somebody to find a way to beat the Bears.
No. 6 Ohio State (just so we're being complete here)
Remaining Schedule: Indiana, Michigan, Big Ten Championship Game (probably No. 16 Wisconsin)
Best Wins: at No. 11 Michigan State, at No. 25 Minnesota
Worst Loss: You certainly don't need to be reminded
The Skinny: It goes without saying that Ohio State needs to win out. Any loss absolutely removes them from playoff contention. It would probably help, despite what the committee says, to beat both Indiana and Michigan comfortably as well. If you have a 30-point spread, winning by 12 isn't going to do you too many favors.
Beyond winning out, Ohio State fans should root for Minnesota to pull off an upset over Nebraska, to improve their chances of sticking around the Top 25. Cincinnati still has an outside chance to win The American, and every little bit helps.
Long story short? Root for Texas to beat TCU, Ole Miss to beat Mississippi State, Kansas State to upset Baylor, and somebody, for the love of all things good and holy, needs to beat Florida State. There's still a lot of football to be played, and even just two of those things happening could vault the Buckeyes to the playoff, if they take care of their own business.