Ohio State makes surprising jump back to No. 1 in College Football Playoff rankings

Joey Kaufman

Ohio State reclaimed the No. 1 spot in the College Football Playoff rankings, surpassing LSU, which had held the top seed for the previous two weeks.

The rankings from the selection committee were revealed Tuesday night.

The case for the Buckeyes was bolstered by a 28-17 win over Penn State on Saturday, giving them their highest-profile victory. The Nittany Lions were No. 10 in the rankings.

Rob Mullens, the committee chairman, said the members were impressed by the performance, which gave Ohio State a third win over a ranked team, serving as a tipping point. LSU also has three wins over ranked teams.

The Buckeyes had debuted at No. 1 in the initial rankings on Nov. 5 but were overtaken by the Tigers after they beat Alabama on the road the following weekend.

LSU was No. 2 in the latest rankings, ahead of Clemson at No. 3 and Georgia at No. 4.

As significant for the Buckeyes’ claim for the top spot was their balance between their offense and defense. Mullens began a conference call with reporters by referring to them as a “complete team.”

Ohio State and Clemson are the only two teams ranked in the top-10 in the nation in both total offense and total defense. Despite its high-scoring offense, led by Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback Joe Burrow, LSU ranks No. 43 in total defense.

Mullens said the gap between their defenses was a “key piece” in settling the No. 1 ranking.

“Obviously, LSU has a very strong offense,” Mullens said. “But to date, their defense isn't quite as strong as Ohio State's.”

Mullens mentioned that the committee used “relative statistics” to account for the strength of schedule among the teams.

Obtaining the top seed would likely prevent Ohio State from facing Clemson, the defending national champion, in one of the semifinal matchups and pair it against a one-loss team.

Selection committee chair Rob Mullens told ESPN that Ohio State's balance was a deciding factor in putting it ahead of LSU.

"It's probably that complete team piece," Mullens said. "Ohio State's been really good on both sides of the ball."

The Buckeyes are No. 6 in the nation in total offense and No. 1 in total defense.

The committee slotted at Alabama at No. 5, just outside the playoff field, followed by Utah and Oklahoma.

Ohio State has a chance to tighten its hold on the top spot against Michigan, which is No. 13 in the rankings. It also will face No. 8 Minnesota or No. 12 Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game on Dec. 7, though its resume already includes a win over the Badgers during the regular season.


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