Thanks to Ohio State’s massive comeback against Penn State over the weekend, the Buckeyes are moving up in all of the polls. Ohio State sits 3rd in the AP and Coaches Polls at the moment, and S&P+ and other advanced stats projections like them at least as much, if not more.
But it’s not 1988 anymore, and those polls don’t have any baring on who makes the Playoff. Tomorrow, we get a chance to see exactly where the Buckeyes stack up with the selection committee, as the first playoff rankings will drop.
What sort of profile do the Buckeyes have right this very second?
A better one than they last did last week, but certainly not the best in the country. The Buckeyes can boast a victory over last week’s #2 team, and one that should be ranked in the Playoff top-10, in Penn State.
But they also only have one other win right now over a team with a winning record, and that’s Army (6-2), a win that probably won’t impress too many national observers. To be fair, the Buckeyes have smashed everybody else they’ve played, outside of Oklahoma, and Maryland and Nebraska are both currently .500 teams, but in terms of pure strength of schedule, other programs can claim better profiles.
The Buckeyes also have a loss, at home, to Oklahoma, a game where they were soundly outplayed. There are worse teams to lose to than Oklahoma, for sure. But it is a loss.
Who has the best profiles right now?
I expect Georgia and Alabama to grab the #1 and #2 rankings, respectively. Before y’all start screaming about SEC BIAS, both teams are undefeated, and Georgia did beat Notre Dame on the road, perhaps the single most impressive win anybody has collected at this point. Alabama doesn’t have a marquee win, but they have clobbered everybody they’ve played. These two teams in any other positions would be a big surprise.
Will Ohio State crack the top four?
It is possible, but I don’t think that’s the most likely scenario. Notre Dame probably has the best one-loss resume, with solid victories over NC State, USC and Michigan State, all squads that are likely to crack the first Top 25. Their loss, a one-pointer to the probable #1 team, is also very defensible.
That leaves a mess of teams with similar-ish profiles, Clemson, Oklahoma, and Ohio State. I think, at this very second, both Clemson and Oklahoma get ranked above the Buckeyes. Somewhere between 4th and 6th seems like the best guess for Ohio State though.
Okay, so real quick, give me your best guess at the top ten
Aight, here it goes.
- Notre Dame
- Ohio State
- Penn State
- Miami (FL)
Should Ohio State fans be concerned if they don’t crack the top four?
For one, Ohio State’s profile should improve. Penn State’s hardest games are behind them and that win could look better the later we get in the year. Ohio State also will play Michigan State (a team that might still hang around the Top 25), Iowa (a team that should make a bowl) and Michigan (a team that should also finish in the Top 25), further boosting their profile. Maybe Maryland and/or Nebraska and/or Indiana mess around and make a bowl game too.
Plus, if Ohio State wins out, they’re getting a crack at Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game, which would be a massive boost.
Ahead of them, there’s Georgia (who still has to face Auburn, Georgia Tech, and an SEC title game against Alabama), Oklahoma (who may lose at least one more time, plus the Big 12 championship game), Clemson (ACC championship game, Florida State, NC State) and Notre Dame (Miami, Stanford, no conference title game).
The odds that a one-loss Big Ten champion would miss the playoff seem exceptionally remote.
At the end of the day, it’s only the final rankings that matter...it wasn’t that long ago that we had a #1 ranked Mississippi State, after all, and Ohio State has climbed back from big playoff ranking holes to grab a playoff spot in the past. One way or another, they should find themselves in a good position tomorrow evening. And if they keep winning, they should finish in one too.