- Marcus Hartman
Tuesday nights have been kind of weird on the Ohio State beat for the past month or so.
On one hand, various Buckeyes are available to talk about their upcoming game. They often have to insist the next opponent is their sole focus even as we ask them if they were thinking about the postseason.
Then about the time they are finishing up taking questions from reporters, the College Football Payoff rankings are released.
How much the players pay attention to those is anyone’s guess, but it’s almost literally impossible for reporters to go along with what we’ve just heard from them when the rest of the sports world is ready for another debate.
I guess that’s the genius of the weekly playoff rankings being released the way they are.
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The CFB powers that be are certainly getting what they wanted in terms of thrusting the sport into the conversation.
And yet the rankings are still almost entirely meaningless.
The committee has insisted they start over every week, and I tend to believe them.
They proved it to me in the first year when they ranked Ohio State in the top four after the Buckeyes significantly improved their resume and the Big 12 teams in front of them (TCU and Baylor) both saw theirs get worse because Oklahoma State knocked Oklahoma out of the top 25.
The only thing the in-season rankings are good for is to get a general idea of what the committee thinks about what teams have done so far.
That is a little more useful this week since one of the teams in the picture is done playing.
No. 5 Alabama can’t do anything else to impress the committee. The Crimson Tide are going to look the same on paper next week as they did this week.
I always thought an undefeated Wisconsin team was going to get in anyway, but now it’s official because the Badgers are fourth, and to remain undefeated they’ll have to beat another top 10 team (Ohio State).
The No. 8 Buckeyes will look a lot different on paper next week if they hand Wisconsin its first loss.
They’d not only add a big win but become conference champions, which allegedly is considered a tiebreaker.
When we get right down to it, we on the outside are in a similar position to last year: We can count up a team’s merits, but we can’t be sure how the committee will actually weigh them — especially since the Buckeyes have two losses and Alabama only has one…
That brings us to the actual football game Ohio State will play this weekend.
The matchup between Ohio State and Wisconsin is hard to peg because honestly it’s still just about impossible to tell how good either of these teams are.
Ohio State has looked great at times, but calling the Buckeyes inconsistent doesn’t really do them justice. They were downright bad against Oklahoma and Iowa, not to mention early against Penn State and Michigan (bad stretches of games and bad games are very different, though).
Wisconsin has mostly looked pretty good, but the Badgers have hardly faced anyone capable of pushing them. That’s especially true of UW’s secondary.
Of course this is why they play the games, but it’s a little baffling how a team can be such an unknown at this point in the season.
The same perhaps could be said of Alabama until last week, though, so maybe it’s only fair the Crimson Tide and Badgers get matched up in a New Year’s Six bowl should Ohio State win this weekend…
Elsewhere in the sports world, Middletown graduate Vincent Edwards scored 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds as Purdue beat No. 17 Louisville 66-57 in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
Edwards has scored in double figures in all eight of the Boilermakers’ games this season.
The annual Challenge hasn’t been as kind to a pair of former Wayne Warriors.
Ahmad Wagner started for Iowa last night but scored only two points in 12 minutes of the Hawkeyes’ 79-55 loss at Virginia Tech.
D’Mitrik Trice tallied 10 points and two assists in 34 minutes for Wisconsin on Monday night as the Badgers lost 49-37 at Virginia.