Week eight review: Ohio State’s playoff hopes have been dashed … for now

Of all the potential upsets this season, Ohio State going into Happy Valley and dropping one to Penn State was not one I considered very likely. Nonetheless, it happened. On special teams heroics, the Nittany Lions got it done 24-21.

This result should serve as a warning for the other top teams. We have seen it year after year in the College Football Playoff and BCS eras; highly-ranked and heavily-favored teams can take a tumble when least expected.

As for the Buckeyes, their playoff hopes have been cut short for the time being. There is a scenario where they could be back in the mix, but it would require help from outside forces. As it stands now, there are undefeated teams in each of the other Power Five conferences (SEC-Alabama, ACC-Clemson, Pac 12-Washington, Big 12-Baylor and West Virginia). While it would greatly enhance Ohio State’s resume to beat Michigan and win the Big Ten title, I do not believe they would jump any undefeated Power Five conference champion, including the Big 12 champion. Whether the should or not is another discussion.

If Baylor and West Virginia are 11-0 going into the final game, which will be played on championship weekend, it will result it championship-like coverage and attention. As a result, the winner of that game would assuredly have enough momentum with the committee to get into the top four over a one-loss team.

There is a long way to go, and Alabama, Clemson and Washington also all have some major tests ahead. But, if they all win out, along with Baylor and West Virginia, Ohio State would not get the nod.

Here is my top 10 after week eight:

  1. Alabama (8-0)
    • Beating another top-10 team was just another weekend at the office for Alabama, but the Tide suffered a big loss when star safety Eddie Jackson suffered a season-ending injury
  2. Michigan (7-0)
    • They have hardly played any competition, but they have been impressive enough in what they have played to earn the second spot
  3. Clemson (7-0)
    • The Tigers were off this past week, and we will learn a ton about where this team is this week when they travel to Tallahassee
  4. Washington (7-0)
    • A 41-17 win over Oregon State was expected, but the Huskies are about to play a stretch of games that tell us whether they are indeed playoff-worthy
  5. West Virginia (6-0)
    • I was extremely impressed with the Mountaineers’ 24-point victory over TCU, enough to move them all the way to fifth
  6. Texas A&M (6-1)
    • The Aggies put together a valiant performance at the top team in the nation’s place, and I have been an advocate of this team since the opening weekend
  7. Baylor (6-0)
    • Baylor was off this past week getting ready for the second half of the season, and the competition is about to crank up on the Bears
  8. Nebraska (7-0)
    • Many people may not even know there are two undefeated Big Ten teams, and while Nebraska might have been underappreciated to this point, they have a major test this week at Wisconsin
  9. Louisville (6-1)
    • The Cardinals are hanging in there, but they need some statements coming down the stretch to make a playoff case
  10. Auburn (5-2)
    • Auburn is the best two-loss team in the nation, and their only losses are to teams in my top six

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