It’s finally here, Ohio State fans. November — the best month of college football every year.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge supporter of that late-August or early-September start to the season where it’s still warm enough to wear shorts and you can still see the sun on a regular basis. But there is just something about this time of the year and what it does to college football that makes it my favorite. Additionally, defining college football in November every year usually only requires one word: Chaos.
To kick it all off, the first College Football Playoff rankings of the season were released Tuesday and the Buckeyes sit in the No. 10 spot heading into the first wild weekend of the month. Some may look at that tiny number next to Ohio State and think that the CFP dream is over. But in the words of Lee Corso, I say, “NOT SO FAST MY FRIEND!”
The Buckeyes chances of making the four-team field are still very much alive, and the path to the playoff still is set up if Ohio State can pull all the pieces together the final month of the regular season and win out. Yes, I realize there are still four games left, including one in East Lansing and one at home against James Joseph Harbaugh and Michigan. But Ohio State truly has its postseason destiny right in front of them, and these rankings released on Oct. 30 probably won’t mean a thing by Nov. 24 in Columbus.
However, seeing as Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes are currently six spots outside of the College Football Playoff picture, they clearly will need some help around the country along with running the table the rest of their season. Here are five games that Ohio State fans should be also watching this weekend when the Buckeyes aren’t on or are at commercial — and who they should be rooting for.
1. Penn State at Michigan
I’m almost positive that when you first saw this was a list of games that are important to Ohio State this weekend, you assumed this matchup would be right at the top. So it is!
Last season, Penn State crushed Michigan in Whiteout conditions behind an unbelievable game from Saquon Barkley. But, as you know, there’s no more No. 26 in that backfield this season for the Nittany Lions. So I think at this point, the Buckeyes are rooting for Michigan to earn revenge on Penn State this season to completely take James Franklin’s “great program” out of the Big Ten picture and make that Nov. 24 meeting in Columbus all that more enticing.
Sure, a victory for Penn State would likely knock the Wolverines out of College Football Playoff contention, but that would also take away from the hype of The Game later this month. It’s a win-lose there, but either situation has some benefit for the Buckeyes.
2. Notre Dame at Northwestern
If you’re not already, you should become a massive Northwestern fan before this weekend. Seriously.
At this moment, the Wildcats lead the Big Ten West at with a 5-1 conference record while Iowa, Purdue and Wisconsin are all closely trailing behind. Obviously, this is not a conference matchup this weekend, but a Northwestern upset of the Fighting Irish would be good for multiple reasons.
First, it means another win for the Wildcats and that they have won five-straight games. Northwestern also will maintain its lead in the West after the weekend just based on their lead on the division, but a win boosts their resume overall — which could be significant for the Buckeyes if that’s the opponent in the Big Ten Championship game. And not to get too far ahead of myself, but I’m sure the Buckeyes would prefer to play the Wildcats in Indy rather than anyone else. Except for maybe Purdue. Just saying.
The clear reason why Northwestern beating Notre Dame is good for Ohio State is that it takes the Irish out of the College Football Playoff picture completely. So get that purple shirt you never wear ready for Saturday night.
3. Oklahoma at Texas Tech
This one is pretty straightforward.
Oklahoma is three spots in front of Ohio State. Oklahoma already has one loss, and another one would also knock them out of contention for the College Football Playoff. You are now a Red Raiders fan for the weekend, congratulations.
4. Georgia at Kentucky
When the College Football Playoff rankings were released Tuesday and Kentucky was inside the Top 10, I thought it was the preseason college basketball poll. Just kidding (kind of).
The Wildcats are having an unbelievable season this year under coach Mark Stoops, and another win to move to 8-1 would be the most victories the program has had in a season in over a decade. Also, a Kentucky win over Georgia could mean great things for the Buckeyes.
Both teams currently sit in front of Ohio State in the rankings, each with one loss to its name. The loser this weekend will be eliminated from the SEC Championship game and likely the CFP bracket, while the winner would move into even better poll position and secure a spot for the conference title game in December. The Buckeyes will likely want to root for their friends to the near south and hope the Wildcats can use the home crowd to their advantage to snag a Top-10 win.
Do I think it will happen? Probably not as Georgia is pretty good. But things get weird around this time of the year. So I welcome the chaos that would ensue from Kentucky win over the Bulldogs.
5. Alabama at LSU
We’re staying in the SEC, and you were probably wondering when this game was going to show up on this list. So here it is, folks. This one just means more.
Joe Burrow-led LSU is riding the positivity train into this one after racking up five ranked wins already this season, including three in the Top 10. However, as odd as this may sound, Ohio State supporters should be hoping Nick Saban hands the Tigers their second loss of the season this weekend. Why? Allow me to explain.
Alabama running the table the rest of the season is a good thing for Ohio State because it would likely mean that only one team from the SEC earns a place in the College Football Playoff — unlike last season. The Crimson Tide taking down LSU would all but wrap up an SEC championship spot and likely put them on cruise control into the playoff. Shocking, I know.
If LSU takes the crown in Death Valley on Saturday, it would hurt the Buckeyes chances of making the playoff because of the possibility of two teams from the same conference looming as a major possibility at that point. It would also be Alabama’s first loss and that would create the most chaotic chaos possible for the playoff picture — and it’s only the first weekend of November. And I’m not sure anyone is ready for that.
I’m sorry, Joe Burrow, but LSU must die so Ohio State can live. Just like you always wanted it.