1. At least three of the foursome of Alabama, Oregon, Clemson and Florida State take losses.
I don’t think the Buckeyes’ schedule is going to be strong enough on its own merits to get them into the title game ahead of any of those teams if they remain undefeated.
Stanford’s loss to Utah on Saturday was nice for Ohio State because it means Stanford could take out Oregon without being a serious threat to be ranked ahead of the Buckeyes. The winner of this Saturday’s Clemson-FSU clash is pretty much certain to be ranked ahead of Ohio State this time next week, but obviously there will still be a lot of season left to play. Perhaps the Buckeyes will benefit from both teams having historical out-of-conference rivals to deal with on the last week of the regular season, not to mention a tough potential matchup with Virginia Tech in the ACC championship game.
2. Michigan State or Nebraska win out.
Obviously both of these one-loss teams can’t win the rest of their games because they play each other in Lincoln on Nov. 16, but the winner of that game could help Ohio State by taking care of everyone else on the schedule and thus giving the Buckeyes another top 15 or maybe even top 10 opponent in the Big Ten Championship Game.
3. Michigan wins out except for against the MSU/Nebraska winner.
The Wolverines’ overtime loss at Penn State did not help Ohio State, but I don’t think it hurt the Buckeyes much, either, unless you were under the impression Michigan might be 11-0 when Ohio State travels to Ann Arbor at the end of next month. Given the erratic play of talented quarterback Devin Gardner and the weakness of the interior of the Wolverines’ very young offensive line, I never saw that being in the cards. Based on their slipping in the polls after struggling against Akron and Connecticut, I don’t think I’m alone in that belief. Michigan is certainly dangerous and could knock off a lot of teams across the country – including Ohio State – but the Wolverines are still at least a year away based on their youth. They could still have nine wins before playing the Buckeyes, though, so perhaps they can return to the top 25 as well.