STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Ohio State is cashing in on its big wins from earlier this season.
The Buckeyes (6-1, 3-1 Big Ten) were the No. 2 team in the country prior to their 24-21 loss to Penn State on Saturday, so their early season success was obviously already being rewarded. However, the real value of those road wins against Oklahoma and Wisconsin is that they have prevented a free fall in the rankings.
Ohio State nearly fell out of the top 25 in 2014 after losing to Virginia Tech and needed all year to work its way back into playoff contention. When the first playoff rankings were released in early November that year, the Buckeyes were ranked 16th. That will not be the case this year, if the Buckeyes remain with just one loss. Ohio State fell to No. 6 in the AP Top 25 and No. 8 in the Coaches Poll, leaving the Buckeyes in control of their own fate going forward.
Previous rankings (Coaches/AP): No. 2/No. 2
New rankings (Coaches/AP): No. 8/No. 6
Last result: 24-21 loss at Penn State on Saturday
What it means: Ohio State has a much higher floor than most teams because the Buckeyes beat No. 11 Wisconsin and No. 16 Oklahoma. As long as they have just one loss, there’s no way they’ll fall below those two teams. Additionally, the Buckeyes could have a chance to bag two more top-10 wins this season, depending on what happens with Nebraska and Michigan the rest of the way. The loss to Penn State was disappointing for Ohio State fans, but it was far from a death blow to the team’s playoff chances. In fact, it showed just how highly voters view Ohio State’s resume, a big difference from the problems the Buckeyes faced two years ago.