Ahead of them are No. 1 Georgia, No. 2 Michigan, No. 3 Washington, No. 4 Florida State and No. 5 Oregon in playoff rankings released Tuesday night.
Two teams behind the Buckeyes — No. 7 Texas and No. 8 Alabama — also remain alive heading into the final week of competition, a championship weekend that for the third consecutive season won’t include Ohio State.
“It happens every year, something along these lines,” committee chair Boo Corrigan said Tuesday night after the penultimate rankings of 2023 were revealed. “Maybe not seven of eight playing in a championship game, but typically there’s one team that does not play, and as we look at it, it is an extra data point that we have and something else that we can look at as we’re evaluating it.”
The extra data point helped Ohio State in 2014 when the Buckeyes beat Wisconsin convincingly enough to slide into the top four after ranking fifth the previous week, but this time that could work against them.
What the committee takes from the result of Washington facing Oregon in the Pac 12 Championship Game on Friday night remains to be seen, and Texas has a chance to boost its resume this weekend.
The Longhorns face No. 18 Oklahoma State in the Big 12 Championship Game at noon Saturday, and if Steve Sarkisian’s team looks better on paper when the committee convenes again, it could pass Ohio State.
The Longhorns already have two ranked wins, including at Alabama, but they lost to No. 12 Oklahoma on a neutral field.
“As we said from the very beginning, it’s never one single data point,” Corrigan said. “It’s everything combined, and it’s 13 different people that are all committed to doing it the right way, committed to doing it with integrity and committed to getting it right.”
Ohio State has wins over No. 10 Penn State and No. 17 Notre Dame along with its stumble last week in Ann Arbor.
“The rivalry games last weekend, they’re crazy, right? How those games are played, and typically all the young people know each other that are playing. Maybe they’ve been recruited by both schools and really looking at it,” Corrigan said. “But like I said earlier, it’s an early, it’s a middle, it’s a late conversation that we all have and make sure that everyone is weighing in to where we are and looking at them.
“The advantage we have this year, and I do believe it’s an advantage, is we’ve got a lot of great teams, and we’ve got a lot of great choices to make.”
What Texas does Saturday will not matter to Ohio State if Florida State beats No. 14 Louisville on Saturday night in the ACC Championship Game, but the Seminoles will have to do so without star quarterback Jordan Travis, who suffered a gruesome lower leg injury two weeks ago.
They are 1-0 under backup Tate Rodemaker after beating rival Florida 24-15 last week.
“It’s pretty obvious with Jordan Travis not playing and Tate Rodemaker playing, they’re a different team — just as anyone would be if they lost their quarterback in that situation,” Corrigan said. “But they were able to get a win down in Gainesville.”
Alabama could also throw a wrench into Ohio State’s plans to crash the playoff if the Crimson Tide can hand Georgia its first loss in the SEC Championship Game, but Corrigan refused to speculate on how high the Crimson Tide could move if they do.
“Good question, fair question, but it’s kind of asking us to project on where we are,” Corrigan said. “Our goal is to watch games this weekend, and it’ll be great to be able to watch them as a group as we go through it. And as we’ve talked about before, conference championships and head-to-head (matchups) and everything that we look at per the protocol will be in full effect of what we’re doing and making sure that we make the right decisions.”
The final rankings will be revealed at noon Sunday.
The Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl are set to host the semifinals this year with the national championship game to be held in Houston, Texas.