This week's College Football Playoff rankings are out and, as many expected, Urban Meyer's Buckeyes are holding down the No. 2 spot, behind Alabama.
According to ESPN, Ohio State has the nation's No. 3 schedule, when factoring in their record and possess wins over the No. 7 (Wisconsin) and No. 9 (Oklahoma) teams – both on the road, as well as an improbable upset at the hands of Penn State, the No. 8 team this week, also on the road.
|2||OHIO STATE||BIG TEN||9–1|
|8||PENN STATE||BIG TEN||8–2|
The Buckeyes travel to Michigan State this weekend before closing the regular season against a Michigan team that is currently ranked third by the College Football Playoff selection committee, and while OSU's path to Indianapolis and a potential Big Ten championship is uncertain, the Buckeyes are making a strong push into the playoff field, regardless of whether they win a league title.
ESPN's Rece Davis is looking at the Ohio State–Michigan clash to end the regular season as a play-in game for the playoff.
“You're going to have – assuming Ohio State and Michigan go ahead and win – you're going to have what looks like a de facto quarterfinal playoff game when they meet in Columbus in a couple of weeks,” the analyst said Tuesday night.
Fellow analyst Joey Galloway thinks Ohio State is in if they win out.
“We might have just seen the recipe for getting that second [conference] team into the playoff. Either Ohio State or Michigan is about to add a [win over] two or three to their résumé. But let's say Ohio State wins that game,” Galloway said.
“It would be tough. It would be crazy to think they could add a win over No. 3 Michigan to their already good résumé and somehow then find a way to get them out of the No. 2 ranking. If they win out, it looks like Ohio State is in.”
For the first time in close to a decade, the Big Ten is benefitting from the strength of the league, with four teams ranked in the top eight of the CFP rankings. Selection committee chairman Kirby Holcutt said as much when discussing Michigan's placement.
Yes, the committee loves conference championships, but quality wins, something Michigan and Ohio State both have in abundance, go a long way, too. Its these wins that have those two programs ahead of other 9–1 programs from the ACC and Pac-12.
“What impressed the committee about Michigan is that they have three wins against top 10 teams at this point in the season,“ said the Texas Tech athletics director.
Ohio State and Michigan will each have a chance to add another quality win to their before the dust settles on the regular season next Saturday. If the Buckeyes win that game, but don't win the Big Ten East, will it be enough to get into the CFP? It sure looks like it's trending that way.