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Ohio State has the third-best chance to reach the College Football Playoff

The AllState Playoff Predictor favors the Buckeyes over other top teams.

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Indiana Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Ohio State has done about all it can do so far this season, knocking off three inferior opponents with ease. While their current rank in the polls still has them locked in at No. 6, the Buckeyes are very much trending upwards, and according to the AllState Playoff Predictor, they have looked like one of the best teams in the nation, coming in with the third-best odds to make the College Football Playoff — behind just Clemson and Alabama.

The Tigers unsurprisingly lead the pack with a 78 percent chance at finishing in a playoff spot, which considering they likely won’t play another ranked team this season makes a ton of sense. Alabama is right behind them at 75 percent, playing a slightly tougher schedule including No. 4 LSU, but with clearly one of the top units in the country. Ohio State somewhat surprisingly has the third-highest odds at 43 percent despite a gauntlet of a remaining schedule, which still includes three top-15 matchups against Wisconsin, Penn State and Michigan.

The Buckeyes have yet to play a real top-tier opponent in 2019, but their performance through their first three games of the season would seem to show they are ready to compete at the highest level. Entering the season with a bunch of unknowns, with a new head coach in Ryan Day and new quarterback in Justin Fields, there have been no signs of a hiccup. The offense is clicking, and a defense that struggled mightily last season has looked dominant in its new system.

There will be a ton of shakeup coming in the rankings moving forward, starting with this week’s matchup between No. 3 Georgia and No. 7 Notre Dame, the first two teams behind OSU in the playoff predictor. Of note, UCF is given better odds than any Pac-12 team with a nine percent chance, just ahead of Oregon at eight percent. Michigan, who began the year as the favorite in the Big Ten, has dropped all the way down to a one percent chance to make the playoff after two lackluster performances.

Ohio State’s offense under Ryan Day has been constantly improving and very impressive to start the year, with nobody having a bigger performance thus far than J.K. Dobbins’ effort on Saturday against Indiana. After his domination of the Hoosiers this past weekend, Dobbins was named one of the Big Ten’s Co-Offensive Players of the Week, sharing the honor with Minnesota’s Tyler Johnson.

The junior running back racked up 193 rushing yards on 22 attempts with two touchdowns — one rushing and one receiving. It was Dobbins’ second huge performance in Bloomington in as many visits, with a 181-yard effort in his first career start for the Buckeyes at Indiana in 2017. The third-year back had his full skillset on display in this one, breaking tackles, finding the right gaps and leaving defenders in the dust with his burst of speed. Despite his longest run of the day being a 56-yard scamper, his most impressive play on the day was his 26-yard TD in which he broke six or seven tackles en route to the end zone.

Dobbins has already rushed for 425 yards on the season, the most of any player in the Big Ten. The 5-foot-10, 217-pound wrecking ball entered the 2019 season having already amassed the most yards of any Ohio State running back in their first two seasons, with his 2,456 yards through two years surpassing even Archie Griffin’s 2,444 in his first two years in Columbus. If Dobbins is able to put up a third-straight 1,000-yard season — which he is on his way to accomplishing with ease — he would rank third all-time in program history through three years, behind just Griffin and Ezekiel Elliot.

A sight that may strike some fear and bad memories into Ohio State fans, the Buckeyes Big Ten battle with Nebraska on Sept. 28 will be a night game, with kickoff scheduled for 7:30 p.m. EST in Lincoln.

Coming into the season, this was a game many believed to be the potential Big Ten West trap game that has plagued OSU the past two seasons. While a 3:30 p.m. game wound up an embarrassing blowout defeat at the hands of Iowa in 2017, it was more recently a 7:30 p.m. start that effectively ended the Buckeyes’ season, with a shocking 49-20 defeat on the road to Purdue.

There is certainly reason to be a bit concerned about the Nebraska game this year. The Cornhuskers, in their second year under Scott Frost, will have a ton on the line. After beginning the year ranked, they faltered in an OT loss to Colorado in their second game this season. A win against Ohio State would be a chance to completely change the outlook of the program, and it is almost certainly the Huskers’ most important game of the year. In addition, Nebraska will likely debut their black alternates for the contest, looking to channel the “look good, play good” mantra.

Fortunately for the Buckeyes, things are different this time around. Ryan Day has seen the horrors of what can happen when you play down to an opponent on the road, especially in conference. Ohio State will be on high alert, and looking to do everything possible to avoid another huge letdown to a Big Ten West team. This year’s team looks like it has championship makeup, and they will hope to put that on display with a big win in a hostile environment on the road at night.

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