Ohio State remains at No. 4 in penultimate College Football Playoff rankings

Joey Kaufman
Buckeye Xtra
Ohio State running back Trey Sermon (8) celebrates after running the ball to the 1-yard line during the second quarter.

Ohio State held onto the fourth spot in the penultimate College Football Playoff rankings released Tuesday night.

It was the fourth consecutive week the Buckeyes have been ranked fourth, maintaining their position despite another unexpected idle weekend. Last Saturday’s game against Michigan was canceled due to an outbreak of coronavirus cases in the Wolverines’ program, and no replacement team was available in the Big Ten.

Three of the Buckeyes’ previous five games have been scrapped for virus-related reasons, leaving them with a smaller slate than some of the other top playoff contenders.

Top-ranked Alabama, followed by Notre Dame and Clemson, have all played 10 games this fall, twice as many as Ohio State. The Crimson Tide and Fighting Irish are unbeaten, while the Tigers suffered one loss at Notre Dame.

The Buckeyes are scheduled to play their sixth contest on Saturday when they meet Northwestern in the Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis.

There has been little shakeup since the first rankings were released last month and the top-four has remained intact in the following weeks.

Gary Barta, the athletic director at Iowa who is the chairman of the selection committee, said during a teleconference with reporters that there had been less discussion this week between Ohio State and Texas A&M for the fourth spot.

The Aggies, who were also idle on Saturday, have been ranked fifth and at times appeared close to overtaking the Buckeyes, but they have been saddled with a lopsided 52-24 loss to Alabama in October. 

The selection committee has previously praised Ohio State's offensive firepower, led by star quarterback Justin Fields.

The biggest change toward the top of Tuesday's rankings involved Florida. Following a 37-34 loss to Louisiana State on Saturday night, the Gators dropped one spot to No. 7 and were overtaken by Iowa State.

Some movement will likely occur before the final rankings are released on Sunday, setting the field for a four-team playoff that begins on New Year's Day.

Clemson and Notre Dame meet in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game this weekend, while Alabama faces Florida in the Southeastern Conference title game.

jkaufman@dispatch.com

@joeyrkaufman