Very well argued, Hodge, but I'd keep it right where it is. The Buckeyes had to battle the same perceptions and the same uncertainty going into the Sugar Bowl as they had against Wisconsin. We were headed into a fight with the king of he mighty SEC, a much stronger/faster/deeper/experienced team than Wisconsin. The Buckeyes history against the SEC, especially in bowl games, served as a ghostly reminder that we are an inferior team from an inferior conference. And Cardale, well, according to the world, he just got lucky against Wisconsin. There was no way he could do the same against the mighty Alabama D. SEC speed after all.
Sure, the drubbing of Wisconsin catapulted the Buckeyes into the playoffs, but the victory over Alabama silenced the doubters (well, most of them) and put an end to a long run of bad losses to out of conference teams on the national stage (see Florida, LSU, USC, Texas, Miami*) . That's the game that deserves the top spot.