Written by: Matt Shock (@shockwave_music)
Edited by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)
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If you weren’t paying attention, you missed out on a great weekend of college football. Last weekend, the entire landscape of the sport massively changed as eleven ranked teams lost. All of the sudden, Ohio State’s lone loss to Virginia Tech doesn’t look quite as terrible as it once did. In no way are the Buckeyes now guaranteed a spot in the inaugural College Football Playoff. But now, they legitimately have an outside chance of getting there that didn’t exist prior to last weekend.
For starters, Ohio State’s schedule is a favorable one for winning the rest of their games in the regular season. The one big threat to their success is Michigan State; the one team that, from the beginning, I’ve said would be a problem for the Buckeyes.
Right now, Michigan State is the class of the Big Ten (yes, I know that doesn’t seem to mean a lot anymore…but stay with me) and they will by far be Ohio State’s toughest opponent. The defense of the Spartans makes me very nervous because the name of their game is containment. They are more than capable of putting the heat on J.T. Barrett.
So far, Barrett’s hardest challenge came against Virginia Tech, but even the mistakes he made in that game seem to have faded away as the season has progressed. If Barrett keeps progressing the way he has been…look out!
As we’ve talked about at length on The Buckeye Hangover, the secondary is Ohio State’s biggest weak spot against the Spartans…right now.
If the two teams played today, Michigan State probably comes away with the win due to Ohio State’s horrible pass defense. That said, the Buckeye secondary has improved from where they were at the beginning of the season and they still have three weeks to refine their game against lesser talent. Look at where J.T. Barrett was three weeks ago. Yeah, three weeks can do a lot for a player or a unit’s confidence. I don’t think it will be any different with the Buckeye secondary. (Am I drinking the Kool-Aid a little bit? Probably…but I digress.) If this unit can find a way to put it all together over the next three weeks…look out!
When these two teams finally meet, this will be a physical, hard-hitting contest and I think that Ohio State will come away with the upset! But does that victory alone guarantee them a playoff spot? Not at all. They need the perfect storm to keep on rolling.
In order to have a shot at making the playoffs, Ohio State needs more weekends like last weekend. They need considerable victories on their end that are accompanied by losses from highly ranked teams (mostly teams in the SEC).
The top teams in college football represent a whirlwind of huge games over the coming weeks. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at the teams ahead of Ohio State right now and what their schedules look like going forward.
#1 – Florida State – Okay, so we start off with a team that really doesn’t make my point. They face Notre Dame, but I really don’t see that being much of a contest. Florida State is the team to beat…period.
#2 – Auburn – They take on Mississippi State on the road this week. They also have Georgia and Alabama left on their schedule as well…oh yeah, they play them both on the road…good luck with that. Any of those three games could spell disaster for the Tigers.
#3 – Mississippi State – Speaking of the Bulldogs, they host Auburn this week, but they also travel to Ole Miss to close out their season. Oh yeah, they also travel to Alabama on November 15. Their season is far from over and far from easy.
#3 – Ole Miss – Katy Perry’s team travels to Texas A&M this week. I’m not worried about this game for them. However, on October 25 when they travel to LSU…that could be rough. They also host Auburn the week after that on November 1. Good luck getting through that mini-gauntlet unscathed.
#5 – Baylor – What about Baylor you say? Well, they travel to Norman to face the Sooners on November 8. That could definitely be a tricky game for them. They also face Oklahoma State on November 22, so they have a couple of big tests as well.
#6 – Notre Dame – I’m sorry, but to me, this might be the most overrated team on a list that includes TCU. As it stands today, the only ranked opponent they face the rest of the year is Florida State, and they’re probably going to lose that game. Did I mention that the only other decent team they’ve played this year is Stanford? (Come to think of it…they’re kind of like Ohio State…just hanging on for dear life and hoping for an upset.)
#7 – Alabama – The Crimson Tide still has Texas A&M, LSU, Mississippi State, and Auburn left on their schedule. Nobody will be as surprised as I will be if they win all those games.
#8 – Michigan State – The Spartans basically have one high profile game left on their schedule – November 8th when they host Ohio State. Aside from that game, they should easily win every other game on their schedule.
#9 – TCU – The Horned Frogs face Baylor this week on the road. They don’t stand a chance…enough said.
#10 – Arizona – The Wildcats still have UCLA and Utah left on their schedule, both on the road. This doesn’t exactly make the rest of their season a walk in the park…and we all know that good old Rich Rodriguez will choke at some point.
#11 – Oklahoma – The Sooners still have to host Baylor and Oklahoma State before their season comes to a close. Again, this won’t be a cakewalk by any stretch.
#12 – Oregon – The Ducks face UCLA this week in Pasadena. They also have Stanford and Oregon State left on their schedule. Those matchups always prove to be tricky for the Ducks.
I say all that to make this point: most of the teams ahead of Ohio State still have to play each other, so the landscape of college football is bound to change even more! Unlike in years past, it really seems like the National Title is up for grabs to whoever wants it most. While Ohio State may just have an outside chance at competing for the title, I still like their chances in what is shaping up to be one of the most exciting college football seasons in recent memory.