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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.