Which Undefeated Team Has The Best Résumé?
Currently, the AP Top 25 poll has nine unbeaten teams in the top 10. That's pretty impressive. However, as the meat of conference play begins, teams will start to show what they are made of.
There is constant debate about who should be the No.1 team. The Ohio State Buckeyes have been steadily losing first place votes since their victory at Virginia Tech in early September, but one thing is still certain: nobody has been able to topple the Buckeyes.
Yes, the scarlet and gray weathered the storm against Northern Illinois and Indiana —both being one touchdown victories — and looked less than stellar against Hawai‘i, but they are still the best team in college football.
If you look at the Buckeyes' résumé, you see spectacular things. Here, let's take a quick glance:
The Star Power
I don't know of any recent team that had to endure the hype train that Ohio State went through over the offseason. The whole Cardale Jones/J.T. Barrett QB carousel went round-and-round up until the first snap against Virginia Tech.
Even after the 42-24 win in Blacksburg, Virg., there have been increasing rumblings from the fanbase for to start.
Remember, Cardale hasn't lost a game at Ohio State. Regression to the mean will happen, but his numbers aren't horrific by any standards. Especially when the receiving corps has been decimated by injuries, there is only so much he can do. Combine that with a new offensive coordinator in Ed Warinner, and a new QB coach in Tim Beck, and you have just created a formula for growing pains.
Luckily for Jones, Ezekiel Elliott has been terrific on the ground. Elliott is the reigning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week, and has 10 straight games with over 100 yards on the ground. And oh yeah, he had a career day against Indiana last week — gouging the Hoosiers for 274 yards on the ground.
While used sparingly in the rushing and receiving side of things, Braxton Miller is still on this, too. He made his grand return against Virginia Tech in style – scoring a touchdown via ankle-breaking spin move, and by incredible reception.
The offense alone is the most fun to watch out of anybody who's undefeated. While you may not like the way they pull out the wins, they still do. It also helps that Ohio State has been in either the 3:30 p.m. or 8:00 p.m. time slot for their first five games this season, something that is rarely seen. Everybody has at least been in the zone for an Ohio State game to be on their TV. If they weren't good, they wouldn't be commanding the time slots.
The Upcoming Schedule
Wins against the current AP Top 15 are few and far between right now. Clemson beat Notre Dame, and pushed them out of the Top 10, while Alabama's demolition of Georgia pushed the Bulldogs toward the end of the Top 20.
Ohio State will have to play Michigan State, who will more than likely be a Top 3 team when that matchup happens on Nov.21. The week after, the Buckeyes travel to Ann Arbor, Mich. to play the Wolverines of Michigan. Right there, you have OSU's potential ranked matchups for the season. While they aren't plentiful, they are quality games nonetheless — and that's not counting on the possible opponent in the Big Ten Championship Game.
The Buckeyes are close to taking off, and becoming a dangerous team. A big game offensively against Maryland, OSU's homecoming opponent, will quell any doubt that the team is deserving of the No.1 ranking. Follow a great performance against Maryland with the first home night game of the season against Penn State, and you just created a formula for Ohio State to prove to the country why they are still the favorite.
We haven't even hit the midway point of the season, and some people are docking Ohio State for not putting up style points.
Last season, the Buckeyes showed improvements after the Virginia Tech loss, and basically ran roughshod over the Big Ten, and cruised to a Big Ten Championship — and ultimately got into the playoff.
This year, the Buckeyes have shown improvements since Northern Illinois, and are gradually getting better with each game. If they continue this, then they are a sure lock for the playoffs, and have the strongest résumé out of anybody.
But What About the Rest of the Résumés?
Even right now, the Buckeyes are the best team. TCU beat a mangled Texas Longhorn team, but allowed Texas Tech to hang 50+ against them. Sorry, I can't give you a nod against OSU, when your highlight is beating up on a struggling team, and allowing your defense to be reduced to swiss cheese.
LSU and Clemson make strong cases against the Buckeyes for best team so far. However, I'm not totally sold on either team. LSU has looked shaky at times, and Clemson let Notre Dame back into the game last week. Besides Leonard Fournette, LSU doesn't have the same explosiveness as the whole OSU package.
Could LSU and Clemson get to the playoffs? Absolutely, but if I'm comparing the Buckeyes to either Tigers, the Buckeyes have the better résumé.
Granted, the halfway point of the season is on Saturday, and anything can happen. But right now, it's a Buckeye world we are living in, until proven otherwise.