Ohio State ranked No. 4 in first College Football Playoff rankings

Bill Rabinowitz
Buckeye Xtra

Ohio State is ranked No. 4 in the first College Football Playoff rankings announced Tuesday.

As expected, Alabama is No. 1. The Crimson Tide (7-0) is followed by Notre Dame (8-0) and Clemson (7-1). The Fighting Irish beat Clemson in double-overtime, but the Tigers were without star quarterback Trevor Lawrence in that game.

"They’ve really dominated every team they’ve played against except of course Notre Dame," said CFP chair Gary Barta, who's the athletic director at Iowa.

That gave Clemson the edge over the undefeated Buckeyes. OSU is 4-0 after holding on to beat Indiana on Saturday, 42-35. The Hoosiers are No. 12 in the initial CFP rankings.

"First of all, Ohio State has an incredibly dynamic offense, led by Justin Fields and so many (other) weapons," Barta said. "They're scoring around 45 points a game, so it's clear to the committee that Ohio State is a very good football team."

But Barta noted that its opponents other than Indiana -- Nebraska, Penn State and Rutgers -- are a combined 2-12.

"That certainly factored in and was one factor in where Ohio State ended up," he said. "But Ohio State is a very good football team, and the committee certainly believes that."

Barta also acknowledged the Buckeyes' defensive issues. Ohio State has given up four touchdowns in the second halves of the Rutgers and Indiana games.

"That’s an area we’ll keep an eye on in the games moving forward," he said.

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Ohio State is trying to qualify for the College Football Playoff for the fourth time in the seventh year of the four-team playoff system.

Northwestern is the second-highest ranked team in the Big Ten. The 5-0 Wildcats are on the verge of clinching the Big Ten West and a likely matchup against Ohio State in the conference championship game

Texas A&M (5-1) is No. 5, followed by Florida (also 5-1) at No. 6. Cincinnati, coached by former Buckeye player and coach Luke Fickell, is No. 7.

Georgia and Miami round out the top 10.

The Buckeyes have been selected for the College Football Playoff three times. They won the national championship in 2014 as the No. 4 seed. Ohio State then lost to Clemson 31-0 in 2016 and again to the Tigers 29-23 in heart-breaking fashion last year. Both came in the CFP semifinals.

In 2014, Ohio State was ranked only No. 16 in the initial CFP rankings because of its early-season loss to Virginia Tech. It qualified for the playoff after a 59-0 victory over Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game and then beat Alabama and Oregon in the CFP.

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Ohio State and LSU took turns atop the CFP rankings last year. The Tigers finished as the top seed, which proved important. Ohio State had to play fellow undefeated Clemson in the semifinals while LSU played Oklahoma, which the Tigers routed. The Big Ten has two other teams ranked in the initial CFP rankings. Wisconsin is ranked No. 16 and Iowa No. 24.

The final CFP rankings will be released Dec. 20. The semifinal games will be played at the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl on New Year's Day. The championship game will be in Miami on Jan. 11.