May 28, 2024

In the second College Football Playoff rankings, Ohio State maintained its top spot, fending off a challenge from Georgia, the two-time defending national champion.

Is it now possible for the Buckeyes to remain there until December’s first Saturday?

Despite trailing at the half and almost losing by two possessions early in the third quarter, the Buckeyes defeated Rutgers in a way that usually has an impact on the playoff selection committee. For starters, the Scarlet Knights are a winning team, and second, Rutgers is a Power Five opponent.

However, Georgia’s 30-21 victory over Missouri was more impressive and moved the Bulldogs one game closer to Ohio State. Given how Georgia plays No. 9 Mississippi and No. 13 Tennessee before playing Georgia Tech at the end of the month—which might by then be bowl eligible—that difference could narrow or disappear completely.

Ohio State’s strongest suit is their rivalry with third-ranked Michigan. The Buckeyes would return to the top of the rankings with a victory in Ann Arbour, even if Georgia advances over the next two weeks. That is, until the following Saturday, assuming the Bulldogs defeat Alabama in the SEC title game to cap off yet another flawless regular season.

The top teams in Tuesday night’s playoff rankings are the Buckeyes and Bulldogs:

 

State of Ohio

The Buckeyes have a lot of committee support. Not that there’s really a good excuse not to: since running back TreVeyon Henderson returned, Ohio State has redesigned itself with an emphasis on defence and has won six games against teams with a winning record. After losing to Clemson, Notre Dame dropped to No. 20, but the Buckeyes also had a strong pair of victories over Penn State and the Fighting Irish. Although there’s cause to believe Georgia could eventually gain the necessary victories to reclaim the top spot, there’s currently no compelling case to push the Buckeyes back a spot.

 

Tulane University

No. 23 Tulane is the only Group of Five team in the playoff rankings and is the clear favourite to win another American Athletic championship and return to the New Year’s Six after Air Force lost to Army by 20 points. Should the Green Wave drop a game in November, things might get complicated because that would allow unbeaten Liberty, Toledo, or the Mountain West winner to advance to the front of the queue. Something else to think about: James Madison is still attempting to have the NCAA reverse a regulation that keeps the Dukes from making the playoffs as a transitional Bowl Subdivision team. James Madison might be a contender to come in first if he is successful.

 

Missouri-

Before Saturday’s game against Tennessee, the Tigers dropped just two spots to No. 14 and are a serious contender for the New Year’s Six. A win over the Volunteers could move the Tigers even closer to the top 10, and a scenario where they can secure a 10-win regular season and a finish inside the final top 12 with wins against Florida and Arkansas to end November could be set up, given how the committee has given Missouri some leeway through two rankings.

 

Oklahoma

The Sooners dropped eight spots to No. 17 following a second loss, not just one after losing to Oklahoma State. Due to the committee’s lackadaisical attitude towards Oklahoma’s longer history, which included victories over SMU, Cincinnati, and Central Florida but was largely overshadowed by these two losses to Kansas and the Cowboys, the team has struggled this fall. The Sooners’ position in the playoff rankings is partially determined by head-to-head tiebreakers; they must trail two teams with identical records, Kansas and Oklahoma State. However, another aspect of Oklahoma’s ranking relates to the committee’s perception of the team, and games in November against West Virginia, TCU, and Brigham Young won’t significantly alter that.

 

California’s south

After suffering a third-straight loss to Washington in a shootout, Southern California was not in the playoff rankings as predicted. This absence still leaves me feeling incredibly let down: USC started the season with six straight wins before losing three of four, with their lone victory coming in a disastrous 50-49 loss against California. Last year, they were one win away from making it to the national semifinals. Even though the Trojans’ chances of winning a national championship vanished over a month ago, this season has been extremely disappointing, as evidenced by their complete absence from the rankings.

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