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Ohio State debuts at No. 6 in first Playoff rankings of season

When it comes to the College Football Playoff rankings, no other polls or rankings matter. That became even more apparent Tuesday night. After the Ohio State Buckeyes were ranked No. 3 in both the Associated Press and Coaches polls on Monday, the Buckeyes debuted at No. 6 in the season’s first Playoff committee’s first rankings of the season Tuesday night.

The 13-person College Football Playoff committee bases its rankings on four criteria: strength of schedule, head-to-head competition, comparative outcome of common opponents and championships won. Obviously, only the first three can be used so far given that conference championships will not take place until the week following the regular season.

Why Georgia above Alabama, you ask? While the Crimson Tide have continually been the top-ranked team all season, the Bulldogs have a much better résumé so far. Georgia beat No. 3 Notre Dame in South Bend. Alabama beat Florida State in a top-10 matchup to start the season, but after losing their quarterback, the Seminoles are just 2-5 this season, so that win doesn’t mean much now. Georgia atop the rankings proves that the committee does care about who you’ve beaten.

For the Buckeyes, the head-to-head and strength of schedule are what matter most thus far. Given that they lost to Oklahoma and beat Penn State, given that all three teams only have one loss, the committee followed their criteria by placing Oklahoma at No. 3, Ohio State sixth, and Penn State seventh.

Notre Dame at No. 3 also makes sense. The Fighting Irish have beaten four teams in the Top 25 and their lone loss was to No. 1 Georgia. They have one of the best résumés in the country.

One of the few questions on the first rankings is where Clemson is ranked. While their star quarterback was injured early in the game and didn’t return, the Tigers lost to Syracuse, which is the worst loss that any team in the Top 10 has had so far. Then again, maybe the committee realizes that if Kelly Bryant didn’t get hurt, Clemson would have won the game. But still, that is a bad loss either way.

The committee doesn’t seem to think too highly of the Big Ten, at least so far. Ohio State is three spots lower in their rankings than the other two polls and undefeated Wisconsin, while they have had a weak schedule so far and mostly do the rest of the season as well is just No. 7 and behind four teams who each have one loss. Penn State seems to be in the exact right spot though, for what it’s worth.

Ohio State may only be No. 6 and out of the important Top Four, but don’t fret, Buckeyes fans, if Urban Meyer’s crew takes care of business the rest of the season, they will be in the Playoff. With matchups at Iowa and Michigan and against Michigan State in the regular season, they still have plenty to add to their strength of schedule. That doesn’t even count the Big Ten Championship game if they win out, which will most likely be against Wisconsin, another top-10 matchup.

For what it’s worth, Ohio State was No. 16 in the first week of the committee’s rankings prior to winning it all in the inaugural Playoff in 2014, were No. 3 in the first rankings in 2015, and like this season, were No. 6 when the rankings debuted in 2016. Of the three, the only time that did not make the Playoff was when they began in the Top Four.

The Buckeyes are clearly a different team than they were when they lost to Oklahoma. The scarlet and gray still have plenty of time to prove that they belong in the Top Four. It’s just up to them to take care of business going forward.

  • RGB

    Ok, did anyone actually WATCH the Clemson v Syracuse game? I did. Every play. Kelly Bryant or not, Syracuse wins that game. Those kids played their asses off.

  • mgbode

    Regardless, I am quite happy with how the Selection Committee did the rankings. Clemson also beat VaTech & Auburn, so I’m not all that upset they flanked OU and tOSU. They could be anywhere in that mix, really.

    Rewarding those who have played strong schedules would hopefully cause more teams to schedule tougher opponents in the future… you would think (looking at you PSU, Wisc, Miami- well, Miami just hasn’t played their tough OOC yet in ND).

  • RGB

    Having been force-fed all the $EC games here, I can say, regardless of what the resume’ says, Alabama is going to do bad things UGA in the $EC title game.
    And ND is going to run Miami out of the stadium.

  • WFNY_DP

    Yeah, I don’t buy that Georgia is better than Alabama.

    Florida State being suddenly atrocious hurts a few teams, including Alabama (who whipped them when they still had Francois). It kills Clemson, because they no longer have that big bomber on the schedule, through no fault of their own. Ditto Miami. One is probably loathe to front-load a schedule while assuming FSU is going to be top-5 and lurking later in the season.

    I’d love to have been a fly on the way during the discussion about OU and TCU, given that they both lost to the same (otherwise crappy) team in basically the same conditions. OU beating a completely different looking OSU suddenly looks less good for them, in my eyes. Though the ISU loss is suddenly less crappy because TCU lost to them too. It’s an interesting needle to thread, and begs the question of whether the committee takes into account how a team was playing when they played. That OSU win for Oklahoma looks great right now, but I would argue (were I on the committee) that if the two teams played again OSU probably wins by 10+.

  • CBiscuit

    I agree. I know it can be dismissed as homerism, but OSU beat a (better than OU) Penn State while repeatedly shooting themselves in the foot and the refs helping out. They were simply a better team than a #2 PSU, so why wouldn’t that head to head beating put OSU in PSU’s former rankings position? But yet they did in fact lose to OU, so I know that is a factor…but in light of of OU’s loss…what the hell can we discern from any of it?

    The committee is moving the goal posts this year. They’re suddenly valuing head to head results instead of looking at the nuances (as you say correctly, a different OSU team now)…and this is odd. I think they’re banking on someone else falling out such as Georgia or ND…but if they don’t and OSU wins out, are they really going to leave the Buckeyes out? That would be pretty shocking.

  • WFNY_DP

    Well, one of Georgia or Alabama is presumably going to lose, since (if nothing else) they’ll play each other for the conference title. Whether that pushes that team below an OSU team with a B1G title in its pocket (I don’t see MSU, Michigan or Wisconsin beating them right now, unless someone very prominent gets hurt), who can say?

    Clemson still has NC State and then (presumably) Miami or VA Tech again lurking, so their path to remaining with just one loss isn’t going to be easy. ND has Miami, too (who also has VA Tech / ND / Clemson/NCSU remaining)… which then means… if Miami runs the table, do THEY jump over everyone?

    There are going to be probably two deserving one-loss teams on the outside this year. Eight team playoff!!

  • mgbode

    I don’t think there are enough really good teams for that to happen this year. We might get our first 2-loss CFP participant.

  • tsm

    What drives me crazy are the pundits that advocate for both Bama and Georgia making the playoff in the event both are undefeated and the game between them is very close. I prefer to look at it like this is the first game of the actual playoff and thus the loser should be out. Given how most of these top teams don’t play each other or even many common opponents, I am against 2 teams from the same conference being in the playoff. Of course, I am an advocate of 8 teams – the 5 conference champs plus the next 3 highest rated teams.