Ohio State is the No. 2 ranked team in the country. The Associated Press Poll came out on Sunday afternoon and the Buckeyes sat at No. 2 after last week’s second-ranked team, Georgia, fell at the hands of LSU on Saturday. The No. 2 ranking was the highest for the Scarlet and Gray since Week 2 of last year.
As has been the case in every ranking this year, Alabama was again the No. 1 team in the country in the Week 8 AP Poll. But on top of moving up to No. 2, Ohio State is starting to build some buzz. The Buckeyes received one No. 1 vote from Keith Sargeant who covers Rutgers football and college sports for NJ Advance Media. In fact, Sargeant has ranked the Scarlet and Gray ahead of the Crimson Tide ever since they beat Penn State on the road on Sept. 29.
As the defending national champions, Alabama was the consensus No. 1 team in the preseason AP Poll. The Crimson Tide have done little to change that thought with the majority of AP voters, dominating every team they’ve played thus far this year. So what has Sargeant seen from Ohio State that has resulted in him ranking the Buckeyes higher each of the last three weeks? 247Sports decided to ask.
“If you look at the last two weeks, Ohio State and Alabama have played similar teams. Ohio State played Indiana last week, Minnesota this week. They didn’t blow them away but won convincingly enough where I didn’t think I should drop them behind Alabama. It’s not like Alabama beat top-notch opponents, either. They’re both 7-0. Ohio State has wins over two Top 25 teams at the time. Alabama has one. If you look at their resumes, they’re very similar, so I’m basing it on who they beat at this point.
I know people will say TCU may have been overrated at the time, but I think Ohio State’s win over them has impacted TCU being 3-3 at this stage. It’s the same thing with Penn State. That is a really good win. Winning in Happy Valley against a team that everyone thought was a Top 10 team at the time. Alabama doesn’t have a win like that.
If you look at my voting history, I’m rewarding teams for who they’ve beaten. I don’t just look at my ballot the previous week. I’m not looking at it as, ‘I had Alabama first in preseason so I have to keep Alabama No. 1 every week.’ I have to look at resumes and who they’ve beaten. And I’ll say this, I’m not doing this for publicity. Anyone who knows me knows better than that. I’ve been doing this for 15 years, and that’s not the way I vote.”
According to ESPN, Ohio State has the best strength of record of any team in the country with the two top-15 wins away from Ohio Stadium. Alabama’s is currently ranked fifth. The Buckeyes’ remaining strength of schedule is 12th in the nation according to ESPN while the Crimson Tide’s is 31st. Alabama has a 41.1 percent chance to finish the regular season undefeated while the Scarlet and Gray have a 28.3 percent chance to do the same.
While the AP Poll gives a barometer of where teams sit and provide rankings for the first portion of the season, the ones that both Ohio State and Alabama fans care about are the College Football Playoff rankings. The first CFP rankings will be released by the selection committee on Tuesday, Oct. 30.