The rivalry has already arrived, yet Ohio State and Michigan don’t even play each other for three more weeks. After this week, Georgia is pretty much the unanimous No. 1 team in the country. As for the second and third best team — well, there’s been much debate to whether TTUN or Ohio State should be ranked higher.
Let’s review both teams’ schedules. The Buckeyes defeated Notre Dame by 11 points, who at the time was ranked the fifth-best team in the nation. While the Fighting Irish lost respect for losing to Marshall and Stanford, they certainly rebounded. They whomped No. 4 Clemson 35-14 Saturday, proving that they are in fact a talented team, which makes Ohio State’s win over them more impressive.
Both teams played Rutgers and ended up winning in dominant fashion. However, Ohio State was up 28-7 at halftime, while Michigan was down 17-14 at the half. The Wolverines have proven they’re a second half team all season long, but the fact that they were losing to Rutgers for two quarters is a little concerning.
Next common opponent is Michigan State. The Buckeyes topped Sparty 49-20, but TTUN only won 29-7. Granted, it’s an in-state rivalry, so they are definitely bigger rivals than Ohio State and Michigan State, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Spartans are bad this year. They’re 4-5 overall and 2-4 against conference opponents. So once again, the Buckeyes have the advantage.
As I continue to write this, the more I realize that Ohio State has the upper hand when it comes to dismantling same opponents. Iowa is the next conference foe both teams played, and the Bucks won 54-10, while the Wolverines won 27-14. It is true that Iowa has a great defense, but somehow Ohio State figured out a way to put up 54 points. This is one demonstration of how Ohio State’s offense is better than Michigan’s.
Moving on to the shared opponent that has some people giving the edge to TTUN: Penn State. Michigan won fairly easily, by a score of 41-17. However, Buckeye fans know that the Nittany Lions gave them about as much as they could handle, with Ohio State edging them 44-31. Not to make excuses, but playing in Happy Valley is one of the most difficult environments in college football, and Michigan didn’t have to do that.
Both teams were pretty much in the same boat around halftime. But, following a field goal on the first drive of the second half, Michigan didn't allow any further points. The Buckeyes ended up surrendering two more touchdowns and a field goal in the second half. In the end, Ohio State pulled out the win, which is what really counts. So, it’s hard to say whether Michigan or OSU has the edge on this one, since the Wolverines didn’t have to play in Happy Valley.
As for close games against unranked teams, Michigan was victorious against Maryland, winning by a touchdown. The Buckeyes obviously had their fair share of struggles against Northwestern this past weekend, winning by two touchdowns. The Wildcats are certainly worse than Maryland, which isn’t a great look. However, Michigan also didn’t have to play in 50 mph winds. It may sound like I’m making up excuses, but these are just the facts.
So, what have we learned? Ohio State had better wins over Rutgers, Michigan State and Iowa. The Penn State games are tough to say since the Wolverines didn’t have to deal with the Nittany Lions’ crowd, yet they did win by a larger margin. Finally, both teams had one close game with a conference opponent, yet both came out on top. Who should be ranked higher?
I’m not saying this as an Ohio State fan, but when you look at everything presented here, I feel it is fairly obvious that the Buckeyes are the better team. They have won by larger margins against shared opponents, and haven’t had as many first half scares as Michigan has. Overall, the Buckeyes are more dominant. Therefore, I believe the AP poll got it right— Ohio State ranked No. 2 and Michigan ranked No. 3.
Let’s see if the CFP Playoff rankings feel the same way Tuesday.
Who do you think will be No. 2 in the CFB Playoff Rankings Tuesday?
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