The release of the first rankings from the College Football Playoff Committee confirmed what was already suspected: Ohio State has a lot of work to do if it wants to be part of the first FBS final four.
The three conference foes all have one loss, although the Cornhuskers’ came at the hands of the Spartans on Oct. 4. Michigan State’s defeat came Sept. 6 at Oregon, which showed up in the No. 5 spot in the CFP rankings.
Ohio State and Michigan State are set to meet Nov. 8 in East Lansing in a game that will in all likelihood decide the winner of the Big Ten East division.
If the Buckeyes are to face Nebraska this season, it will have to be in the Big Ten Championship Game in Indianapolis on Dec. 6. As of now, that appears to be the only way Ohio State could pick up a second win over a ranked team this season.
Topping the poll are a pair of undefeated teams: No. 1 Mississippi State and No. 2 Florida State. The Bulldogs’ conference brethren Auburn and Mississippi are third and fourth, respectively, giving the SEC West three of the top four teams if the playoff were held today.
It won’t be for another two months, of course, and much figures to change between now and the final release of the standings Dec. 7.
Mississippi and Mississippi State will play each other Nov. 29. The Bulldogs already beat Auburn, but the Rebels host the Tigers this Saturday.
Auburn’s remaining schedule also includes No. 6 Alabama and No. 11 Georgia, so plenty of shaking out is certainly still on the way.
Ohio State is also behind three teams from the Pac-12 (No. 5 Oregon, No. 12 Arizona and No. 14 Arizona State). Oregon has already lost to Arizona, but the Ducks would have to wait until a potential conference title game matchup to face ASU. The Sun Devils and Wildcats play their state rivalry game Nov. 28 in Tempe.
Of the three Big 12 schools in the top 14, No. 7 TCU has already lost to No. 13 Baylor, and the Horned Frogs play host to No. 9 Kansas State on Nov. 8. The Bears, who lost to No. 20 West Virginia on Oct. 18, close the season at home against KSU on Dec. 6. Kansas State lost at home to Auburn on Sept. 18.
Then of course there is Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish, whose only loss is at Florida State, play at Arizona State next Saturday and finish the regular season at USC.