Ohio State: Is CFP committee trying to stack the deck for Alabama over Buckeyes?

All week long, our Land of 10 reporters following the Buckeyes will address pressing questions on the minds of the Ohio State fan base with our new daily feature. To ask Austin Ward a question, follow along on Twitter and suggest a topic right here. Check back Monday through Friday as we dive into the Ohio State Question of the Day. Go here to see all of our previous answers.

The unveiling of the rankings each week always brings a flood of new debates, talking points — and even conspiracy theories. Certainly Tuesday night was no exception, when the fact that Alabama dropping to No. 5 and seemingly out of the College Football Playoff picture immediately looked suspicious, thanks to the new positions for a couple of teams on its schedule this season.

Maybe Fresno State really did just happen to catch the attention of the committee after beating Boise State last week. But the late appearance at No. 25 for a Mountain West Conference member with a loss to UNLV to its credit did raise a few eyebrows for what it might mean for the Crimson Tide.

Perhaps Mississippi State really is the best four-loss team in the country. That closing loss to Ole Miss, however, didn’t seem all that impressive for a program that hung around at No. 23 in the latest poll. That would be the third win over a top-25 team for Alabama along with the victory over No. 17 LSU, just for the record.

Ohio State could get a third as well if knocks off Wisconsin on Saturday in Indianapolis, and all of them would be more impressive victories than the ranked ones on Alabama’s résumé. And if the cutoff line was No. 16, the Crimson Tide would be shut out 3-0 in that debate. Since there’s no conference championship for the Crimson Tide to add to the equation, there really doesn’t seem to be a solid case for excluding the Buckeyes if they win the Big Ten on Saturday and it comes down to a head-to-head conversation between those programs.

There’s also no valid reason to suspect anything nefarious about the latest rankings or the committee members doing a difficult job. If the voters had wanted to send a message about the value they’re placing on the eye test, they could have simply left Alabama ahead of No. 4 Wisconsin in the first place.

But even if they were trying to pull a fast one, it still looks more likely than ever that the Big Ten champion is going to the playoff, no matter who else sneaks into the bottom of the rankings on Sunday.

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