Is Ohio State Still Deserving Of Being Ranked the Unanimous No. 1?
The Ohio State Buckeyes enter this week in the top spot in college football. They are still unbeaten; still the reigning national champions.
However, with the likes of Baylor, TCU, Utah and Clemson closing in on the Buckeyes, there are clearly threats to Ohio State's supremacy. Are the Buckeyes still the unanimous choice for No. 1? If you look at the AP Poll Top 25, you see the top five teams taking some of the Buckeyes thunder.
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Warranted or unwarranted, the Buckeyes are a far cry from the unanimous No. 1 team they were in the preseason poll. But when you think about it, what preseason No. 1 has maintained a perfect perception throughout the regular season?
No matter what happens through the course of the season, the No.1 will lose some votes. Unless you're the 2002 Miami Hurricanes or the 2005 USC Trojans, it's never been an easy ride being the No. 1 team with a national championship to protect. The expectations are daunting, while being warped by the unobtainable concept of perfection stuck in the voters (and fans) minds.
Look at Ohio State from a couple weeks ago: they survive at Indiana, and people got their jimmies rustled because the Buckeyes didn't win by enough. Some people on Twitter even went after Cardale Jones, the OSU quarterback, for almost losing the game.
It doesn't matter if the Buckeyes covered the spread, the over/under, or any personal margin of victory you had established in your head, the fact is simple: OSU won.
As Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer said in the past, "the best thing about being 6-0 is the chance of being 7-0."
At this moment in time, should the Buckeyes be No. 1? Yes.
Does winning the national championship last year play a factor as to why they are still No. 1? Absolutely, the last team to stop the Buckeyes' winning ways was Virginia Tech ... last September. After that loss, Ohio State rolled past the rest of the competition last year to a championship. While that title happened last year, I will give you the benefit of the doubt this year in being No. 1 because you are the defending champions.
Yes, Clemson, Baylor, TCU and Utah make cases for being No. 1. However, would those teams still be No. 1 if they had the pressure of Ohio State? Not likely.
Here's a theme with the opponents Ohio State has faced: they are coming at Ohio State with everything they have. The mentality for the opposition isn't, "let's beat Ohio State," but rather, "let's beat the defending champions, Ohio State."
Let's use Ohio State's last opponent, Maryland, as an example.
Terrapin quarterback Perry Hills went off for 206 yards on the ground, and launched a 52-yard touchdown. For those keeping track at home: this is the same Maryland team that lost to Bowling Green, and got blanked by Michigan earlier in the year.
The Buckeyes didn't struggle offensively against the Terps. They racked up 499 yards of total offense – which included 291 passing yards by Jones, and over 100 yards on the ground by Ezekiel Elliott.
Right now, at this juncture in the season, you can make a case for any of the top five teams being No. 1. Conversely, you could make the case that nobody deserves to be No. 1.
TCU and Baylor keep winning in style, but give up a boatload of points in the process.
Utah has a case for being No. 1, but does the fact that they are "Utah" hurt them? To a degree, yes. For Utah to be No. 1, they will need to run the table in the Pac-12. Look back to when Meyer coached the Utes to an undefeated, Fiesta Bowl winning season, to cap off the 2004 campaign. Utah didn't end No. 1, but ended No. 4. Granted, they were in the Mountain West.
Clemson keeps on winning, but aren't blowing out the competition. Additionally, one has to believe that they might have lost some ranking ground by letting Notre Dame come back a couple weeks ago, and making the game closer than it should've been.
While the Buckeyes aren't blowing out teams on the schedule, they are still No.1.
Should they be the unanimous No. 1 team? Nope.
But after looking at the rest of the top five, would anybody be unanimous No. 1?