Ohio State holds firm in CFP rankings

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Ralph D. Russo

Ohio State held firm at sec­ond in the Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off rankings, putting the Buck­eyes in po­si­tion to be­come the first team to be se­lected to the fi­nal four with­out win­ning its con­fer­ence.

The sec­ond-to-last rankings were re­leased Tues­day night and Alabama was No. 1, fol­lowed by Ohio State, Clem­son and Washington. The Crim­son Tide, Tigers and Huskies all play con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship games this week­end and pre­sum­ably would be in good shape to make the play­off if they win. The fi­nal rankings and play­off pair­ings will be re­leased Sun­day.

Un­beaten Alabama is prob­a­bly in good shape to make the play­off even if it loses to Florida in the South­east­ern Con­fer­ence ti­tle game Satur­day

Michi­gan dropped to five af­ter los­ing to Ohio State. Wis­con­sin was sixth and Penn State was sev­enth. The Badgers and Nit­tany Li­ons will play for the Big Ten ti­tle in Indianapolis on Satur­day.

Huskies vs. Wolver­ines

As­sum­ing the Buck­eyes are a lock, and it looks good for them, and Clem­son doesn’t get up­set by Vir­ginia Tech in the ACC ti­tle game, the de­bate for the com­mit­tee when it gath­ers in Texas on Satur­day night to watch games and dis­cuss the only rankings that mat­ter will be Pac-12 or Big Ten.

Can Michi­gan, or maybe the Big Ten cham­pion with two losses, edge a Washington team that would fin­ish 12-1 by beat­ing Colorado Fri­day night in the Pac-12 ti­tle game?

“There is a small sep­a­ra­tion be­tween these two teams,” se­lec­tion com­mit­tee chair­man Kirby Ho­cutt said of Michi­gan and Washington. At one point Ho­cutt added that the dif­fer­ence be­tween the Wolver­ines and Huskies was “ra­zor thin.”

It looks like not only does the com­mit­tee not mind putting one Big Ten team with­out a con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship in the play­off, but it is also com­fort­able with two. Michi­gan at 10-2 has vic­to­ries against both Penn State and Wis­con­sin.

Penn State’s plight

A Wis­con­sin vic­tory in the Big Ten ti­tle game would elim­i­nate the con­tro­versy. The Badgers lost to Ohio State dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son

Penn State fans, how­ever, are al­ready crank­ing up the com­plaints. The Nit­tany Li­ons beat Ohio State in Oc­to­ber. Add a Big Ten ti­tle and Penn State is bound to feel slighted.

Con­fer­ence ti­tles and head-to-head re­sults are essen­tially used by the com­mit­tee like tiebreak­ers when teams are very close. The Buck­eyes and Nit­tany Li­ons are not in the com­mit­tee’s eyes. At least not yet.

“The se­lec­tion com­mit­tee rec­og­nizes the head-to­head win, but in this par­tic­u­lar case, it hasn’t been the dis­tin­guish­ing point in our eval­u­a­tion of those two teams,” he said.

Group of Five

The high­est-ranked con­fer­ence cham­pion from out­side the Power Five is get­ting a Cot­ton Bowl bid and at this point it looks as if it will be No. 17 Western Michi­gan if the un­beaten Bron­cos de­feat Ohio in the Mid-Amer­i­can Con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship game Fri­day night.

The next high­est ranked Group of Five team is No. 19 Navy (9-2), which will play Tem­ple for the Amer­i­can Athletic Con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship on Satur­day at home.

Don’t con­sider WMU a lock. Ho­cutt said the com­mit­tee is still con­cerned about the Bron­cos weak sched­ule. But it looks promis­ing for coach P.J. Fleck’s team.

JAY LAPRETE — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Ohio State run­ning back Cur­tis Sa­muel cel­e­brates his game-win­ning touch­down against Michi­gan in over­time Satur­day.

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