Paul Finebaum thinks there will be more chaos. But right now, he has Ohio State and Michigan as his No. 2 and No. 3 teams.
While on ESPN Sunday morning, Finebaum said the Ohio State-Michigan winner is potentially the biggest threat to Alabama —with Ohio State slightly ahead right now.
“I would go with Ohio State next (after Alabama). Some are shaking their heads, but I think they’re the obvious choice. Then it really gets interesting,” Finebaum said. “A lot of folks have Louisville, others are pushing Wisconsin — you name it, they have it. But I really believe Michigan, (despite) a late loss (Saturday) night, still deserves to be in the Top 4. And after that, Clemson. The Clemson-Louisville debate is the most interesting. I think Louisville is playing well, although they struggled against Wake Forest, they barely got by Duke and Virginia. But Clemson beat Louisville head-to-head, and I think that will be the tiebreaker right now with this committee.”
Going into this week’s games, Finebaum said he thought Clemson was the strongest challenger to Alabama. But then Saturday happened. Clemson lost to Pitt for its first loss of the season.
“A week ago, I would have said Clemson, but I’m scratching them out right now,” Finebaum said. “I think it’s probably the winner of the Michigan-Ohio State game, maybe Ohio State. I think Ohio State lately has been playing at a level we expected them to play.”
However, Finebaum noted there are “complications” with Ohio State, most importantly how the Buckeyes need to win out and have Penn State lose just to win the division. Finebaum said the Big Ten situation “is a mess” in that Ohio State could be playing like the conference’s best team and wouldn’t even play for the Big Ten championship.
Finebaum said an 11-1 Ohio State team, even without a division crown, should still be in the top 4 and make the playoffs.
“Penn State will continue to win, but the game against Michigan State is suddenly a lot more interesting than we thought,” he said. “So let’s say, in my mind, Ohio State beats Michigan. Even if Penn State goes to the Big Ten Championship, I would put Ohio State in.”