Each week during the college football season, Dispatch sports writers Todd Jones, Tim May, Rob Oller and Bill Rabinowitz and sports editor Ray Stein make their choices for the College Football Playoff field.
Each week during the college football season, Dispatch sports writers Todd Jones, Tim May, Rob Oller and Bill Rabinowitz and sports editor Ray Stein make their choices for the College Football Playoff field.Todd Jones, Dispatch college football writer
1. Ohio State
How I see it:We'll see whether there is any fallout from J.T. Barrett's suspension after being cited for operating a motor vehicle while impaired. If anything, maybe it'll put to rest the narrative about the quarterback being a great leader. The Buckeyes shouldn't have any trouble with their next two opponents. Minnesota and Illinois are both being led by interim coaches. Then the real season -- Michigan State and Michigan -- occurs. Clemson already has played a tougher schedule than the Buckeyes, and the Tigers and their high-powered offense now take on Florida State. LSU also plays a real game on Saturday. The Tigers are in a big-boy game at Alabama. The Crimson Tide, not out of the national title race, has four consecutive wins over LSU. Baylor is at Kansas State before heading into a three-game stretch against Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and TCU. November will help make more sense of all of this. Right?
>> Get the most out of college football season, follow @BuckeyeXtra on TwitterRay Stein, Dispatch sports editor
3. Texas Christian
4. Ohio State
How I see it: Ohio State drops from No. 1 to No. 4 based on nothing more than its best quarterback getting pinched for OVI. The Buckeyes are not the same team without J.T. Barrett, though they're still plenty talented. More to the point, the incident means OSU has put itself back in crosshairs of seeming mentally unfit to meet the demands of repeating.
New to the party: TCU, which has just enough of a defense to emerge from the pack of video-game offenses that dominate and define the Big 12.
Shown the door: Stanford, a better-lucky-than-good winner at Washington State. The Cardinal might yet make the final four -- Notre Dame looms on Nov. 28 -- but it also might well be true that the Pac-12 gets shut out of the semifinal hoedown.
>> 1 P.M. THURSDAY:Dispatchbeat writer Bill Rabinowitz answers your Buckeyes football questions, dispatch.com/osuchatRob Oller, Dispatch sports columnist
2. Ohio State
How I see it:The Buckeyes slip one spot not because they got worse but because we're not sure if they got worse. In other words, uncertainty at QB -- where Cardale Jones will replace the suspended J.T. Barrett -- is the culprit. Clemson got an early scare against North Carolina State but ultimately did what playoff teams do: went off in the second half. Oklahoma remains my "outsider" pick, but the Sooners need to keep looking sharp until they hit the homestretch of Baylor, TCU and Sooner State, aka Oklahoma State. After the top four, it's like a horde of 12-year-old girls trying to push toward the stage of a Taylor Swift concert. Michigan State, Stanford and Notre Dame are all shoving their way toward the front, with Alabama and Florida right behind. Keep an eye on the Gators, who might have the best defense in the SEC. And dismiss the Crimson Tide at your own risk. For now, however, the one-loss teams (minus Oklahoma) need a slip-up ahead of them.
>>Where to look for clues in the first College Football Playoff rankingsBill Rabinowitz, Dispatch OSU football beat writer
1. Ohio State
3. Texas Christian
How I see it:I'm not sure there's much difference between these teams, and for that matter, you can add Baylor, Alabama and Michigan State to this list. I give a tiny nod to the Buckeyes based on their past two games, though their real test won't come until Michigan State and Michigan. Clemson is looking like the class of the ACC. TCU gets in over Baylor because the Horned Frogs have Trevone Boykin and the Bears have to break in a new quarterback. The SEC picture will gain some clarity with this week's Alabama-LSU game. The Pac-12's chances are hanging by a thread. Stanford is the only team that looks like it has a chance, but the Cardinal barely escaped Washington State last week.Tim May, Dispatch OSU football beat writer
1. Ohio State
How I see it:No change from last week, and like I keep saying, put these four in any order you want. But is the College Football Playoff committee's first top four of the year, to be released tonight, going to look anything like mine? The members might put Texas Christian in there instead of Baylor, especially because the Bears lost their No.1 quarterback, Seth Russell. The committee might see Michigan State as deserving, though that was more a miracle than a thrashing the Spartans put on Michigan a few weeks back. But it will be interesting to see what the committee thinks of Ohio State and its non-formidable schedule thus far. Of course, we all know tonight's top four is moot. OSU was No. 16 in the first ratings a year ago.