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:Ohio State showed progress against Penn State, especially with J.T. Barrett at quarterback. The Buckeyes still look bored at times while slogging through their 10-game preseason schedule before the real season begins on Nov. 21 against Michigan State. Baylor still seems like a gimmick, but it's hard to ignore the Bears because they're on pace to set NCAA season records for points a game (63.8), yards a game (719.7) and yards a play (8.94). Battle-tested Utah trailed in the fourth quarter against Arizona State before scoring 20 unanswered points. Clemson is rolling behind quarterback Deshaun Watson, but it's still questionable whether a Dabo Swinney-coached team is disciplined enough to hold up in the end.
>> Get the most out of college football season, follow @BuckeyeXtra on TwitterRay Stein, Dispatch sports editor
1. Ohio State
4. Texas Christian
How I see it: Ohio State stays on top because, for once, the Buckeyes played Penn State like they were a unit intent on taking names rather than tiptoeing around waiting to see whether something bad was going to happen. It was the first sign that this team is starting to round into mental shape. Alabama already is there; the Tide has been in elimination mode since losing to Ole Miss.
New to the party: None, and no shifting of spots among the top four, either. As an added bonus, here are the teams immediately outside my top four: 5. Baylor (what do the Bears do against a real defense?); 6. LSU (Fournette is unreal, but they'll need a QB, too, to beat 'Bama); 7. Clemson (you just know the roof will cave in, but you don't know when); 8. Stanford (opening loss to Northwestern not looking so good, but wins over ND and Utah would make everyone forget).
>> Click here for details on how to win tickets and trips to Ohio State's football games fromDispatchReader RewardsRob Oller, Dispatch sports columnist
1. Ohio State
4. Michigan State
How I see it:Lots of movement this week, largely because I'm not sold on the wisps of defense played by TCU and Baylor. The Buckeyes remain No. 1 mostly because no other team has proved itself so potent as to unseat them. Michigan State won via miracle ... or was it destiny? Clemson has stopped Clemsoning for the moment. And LSU looks like the best of the SEC. Lurking: Utah. The Utes are on the doorstep, just waiting for someone to slam a finger in the door.Bill Rabinowitz, Dispatch OSU football beat writer
2. Ohio State
3. Texas Christian
How I see it:Utah remains at the top of my list, but barely. The Utes handled Arizona State by 16 at home. This week's game against Southern California could be tricky. USC obviously is in turmoil, but the Trojans have talent and are rid of the Steve Sarkisian distraction. I moved Ohio State ahead of TCU -- again, a close call. But I think the Buckeyes finally are finding their groove, which I expect to continue with J.T. Barrett now the starter. Alabama looks like it's becoming Alabama again, but the Crimson Tide's loss to Ole Miss could have a "Virginia Tech" effect as the Rebels' season appears to be sinking.Tim May, Dispatch OSU football beat writer
1. Ohio State
How I see it:Notice I'm still going with all unbeatens, teams representing the four best of the Power 5. As for Nos. 1 through 4, flip them if you'd like, but if all four of these teams win out, they will be in the second College Football Playoff. That said, I've also got my eye on ever-improving Clemson and Florida State; on LSU's tallest remaining hurdle, one-loss Alabama; on Baylor's possible party pooper, TCU; and on charmed Michigan State, which will have its next best chance to state its case, vs. Ohio State on Nov. 21.