COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Urban Meyer took a look at the initial College Football Playoff rankings on Wednesday.
It took him a while to find his Ohio State team.
"Just real briefly. I just looked for the Buckeyes. I just looked down and saw where we were at," he said, a slight grin playing at the corners of his mouth. "That’s it."
There was special emphasis on the word "down."
The Buckeyes (6-1, 3-0 Big Ten) , ranked 13th in the coaches and The Associated Press media polls, were 16th on the first weekly list of the top 25 teams determined by the playoff selection committee and released Tuesday.
The Buckeyes are trying to gain incentive off their ranking.
"We were real disappointed," linebacker Curtis Grant said. "We’re hungry. You know, we did it to ourselves. So, all we’ve got to do is keep battling and keep working and at the end of the day try to work our way back to the top."
The Buckeyes aren’t surprised that they have their work cut out for them to make it into the college sport’s first playoff.
They already knew they could not afford a second loss as they prepare for Saturday’s game against Illinois (4-4, 1-3) and then a showdown the following week at No. 8 Michigan State.
Ohio State was No. 8 in the nation when it was soundly beaten at home by Virginia Tech, 35-21, on Sept. 6. The Hokies have since lost four times.
Jeff Long, the AD at Arkansas and also chairman of the 12-member playoff committee, was asked about Ohio State’s low placement.
"It was not a good loss for them," he said of the Buckeyes’ lone defeat. "But Ohio State has opportunities on their schedule to play up, as many of these teams do. We’re still early in this process."
The Buckeyes are ranked third among Big Ten teams by the playoff committee, behind No. 8 Michigan State and No. 15 Nebraska. Of course, the Buckeyes could move up with a win next week at Spartan Stadium. And there’s a distinct possibility if they were to do that, they would most likely get a shot at Nebraska in the Big Ten title game.
What’s perhaps more troubling for Ohio State fans was the Buckeyes listed 14th among one-loss teams. That’s an indication of the low regard the committee has for the Buckeyes’ schedule and conference.
Arguably, their biggest win might be last week’s double-overtime victory over a Penn State team that has lost three in a row. The only other candidates would be routs of new Big Ten members Rutgers or Maryland, each of which is 5-3.
The Buckeyes were inconsistent against Penn State — a terrific defensive effort most of the way before allowing a tying drive at the end of regulation, great offense in building a 17-0 first-half lead but then an unproductive, conservatively-called second half.
Star freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett sprained the medial-collateral ligament in his left knee in that game, but still ran for touchdowns in each overtime to secure the win.
Barrett said he intended to play this weekend.
"It would have to be something drastic that would happen between now and 8 o’clock (on Saturday)," he said. "I plan on playing."
Barrett said the Buckeyes aren’t even thinking about the playoffs; they’re only worried about playing well in the Big Ten down the stretch.
Speaking on the Big Ten coaches teleconference on Tuesday, Meyer said he looked at the playoff committee much as he did the Bowl Championship Series — just another imperfect way of determining who will play for the national championship.
"There is going to be a lot of controversy with this situation," he said. "It’s not a foolproof way."