Straight to it, as usual, a few quick thoughts from my latest ballot in the Associated Press college football poll:
■ Would an Ohio State-Notre Dame playoff game interest anyone? If the season ended today, that’s the game I’d pencil in for one of the semifinals, with the Buckeyes holding at No. 2 and the Irish rising to third after their 45-23 beatdown of then-No. 24 Virginia Tech. Fans of Georgia and current odd-team-out Clemson will impolitely disagree with the order, but the fact is the Tigers’ 28-26 win at Texas A&M is the best win between them. Ohio State (at TCU, at Penn State) and Notre Dame (vs. Michigan, vs. Stanford, at Virginia Tech) have five victories as good or better.
■ Let us put this to bed: If Notre Dame stays perfect, it is going to the playoff. One respected national writer suggested Saturday the Golden Domers are not assured a spot if the SEC champion, Ohio State, and Clemson all go 13-0 and the SEC championship game loser is 12-1. Sorry, that’s not reality. No matter if those early wins become devalued, or if the remaining schedule is light — the Irish’s six remaining opponents are a combined 17-16 — an undefeated NOTRE DAME is in. Just stop.
■ The hardest part about mid-year rankings is factoring in the head-to-head results between teams with similar resumes. For instance, you’d expect Florida (5-1) to make a big jump after a 27-19 win against unbeaten LSU. But do you put the Gators ahead of Kentucky, which, despite a loss at Texas A&M, also is 5-1 and handled Florida at the Swamp? Not a chance. I had Kentucky at No. 14, Florida at No. 15, LSU at No. 16, and Miami at No. 17, because, well, the four teams all have one loss and Kentucky beat Florida, Florida beat LSU, and LSU beat Miami. Seems simple enough to me. No matter what we think, sometimes it is best just to rely on what we see.
My full vote:
2. Ohio State
3. Notre Dame
6. Penn State
8. West Virginia
19. NC State
20. Mississippi State
24. Washington State
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