The Ohio State football team held at the No. 3 spot in the College Football Playoff rankings, but some shakeups around college football affected the top four spots.
The Ohio State Buckeyes held fast at the 3rd spot in the College Football Playoff rankings released on Tuesday night. While Ohio State didn’t move at all, there was still plenty to consider at the top of the bracket, much of which will impact the Buckeyes down the stretch.
- Clemson vs 4. Notre Dame
- Alabama vs 3. Ohio State
What About the Rest of the Field?
Knocking on the door, however, is most of the Big 12. Baylor, Oklahoma State, and Oklahoma are all poised to jump into the top four. Given the difficulty of the SEC schedule, Alabama is still the most likely to drop out of the top four. Notre Dame still has to beat Stanford, a team that has found their footing after losing to Northwestern to start the year. Only Iowa or Ohio State will emerge from the Big Ten. So, that leaves the Big 12 as the most exciting conference to watch during the final three weeks of the regular season.
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Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Baylor all play each other down the stretch. Baylor still has to play one-loss TCU. In what is basically a round robin, either all three teams will get tripped up at least once or someone will emerge as king of the hill in the league. Either way, it’s the Big 12 that has the most on the line in the weeks ahead.
There is no doubt, though, that Clemson is the top team in the country. Their gritty win over Florida State and six wins now over teams over .500 have proven that they can match any strength of schedule, including a win over now No. 4 Notre Dame. With three losing teams ahead of them, Clemson should roll comfortably into the ACC title game to solidify their top spot. Only North Carolina poses a risk to the Tigers in conference.
Nov 5, 2015; Manhattan, KS, USA; Baylor Bears quarterback Jarrett Stidham (3) waits to receive a snap during the first half against the Kansas State Wildcats at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports
The aforementioned Notre Dame squad has only lost to Clemson on the year and owns wins against then-ranked Georgia Tech and currently ranked Temple. Their match up in their season finale against Stanford is one of the more intriguing head-to-head match ups in the last weeks of the season as well. Stanford is now ranked N0, 7, but they can still trip up against Boston College’s defense two weeks from now. As much ass it pains me to say it, the Fighting Irish could get another shot at Clemson while the Pac-12 and Big-12 stay out of the top of the rankings.
But What About the Buckeyes?
Most directly to Ohio State, Alabama jumped up to the number two seed, setting up potentially a rematch of last year’s Sugar Bowl. After the way Alabama handled LSU on Saturday, this match up might be one of the most appealing across the rankings. There isn’t a Buckeye fan anywhere that doesn’t remember Zeke carving up the Crimson Tide defense in the upset that ultimately resulted in a national title for Ohio State.
Iowa also rose up to No. 5 in the rankings. The undefeated Hawkeyes won’t face a test until the Big Ten Championship Game, which we all presume would be against Ohio State. But Iowa is playing great football and does not have any glaring weaknesses. Head Coach Kirk Ferentz, who coming into the year was fielding questions about his job security, has his team playing as perhaps the biggest surprise team of the season.
A couple of important issues for the Buckeyes are the same as they have been all year: quarterback play and the pass rush.
Now that J.T. Barrett has served his suspension, the quarterback situation should be resolved. Cardale Jones was largely a non-factor against Minnesota and Barrett should help keep the Playoff committee happy. The run defense, however, may have taken a step forward. After allowing 33 total rushing yards to the Gophers, Chris Ash and Luke Fickell should keep this unit playing at a high level.
Ohio State must shore up their run defense as their final opponents are looking like Michigan State, Michigan, and Iowa in the conference title game, and all of teams that can run the ball effectively.