With the first College Football Playoff Rankings set to be released, the Campus Insiders team debates who will be the highest ranked 1-loss team.
I’m extremely torn on this between three teams: Louisville, Ohio State, and Texas A&M. Louisville will be ranked higher this week, but Ohio State is the best one-loss team. The Buckeyes don’t have to worry about being left out of the College Football Playoff if they win out, as that will give them a win against Oklahoma, Michigan, and whichever team comes out of the Big Ten West.
This is a close one. I love everything Urban Meyer is doing in Columbus. He has some extremely talented players on that team, but the best one-loss team is Texas A&M. The Aggies at least hung with No. 1 Alabama for a little bit, while the Buckeyes fell to Penn State and barely beat Northwestern.
Trevor Knight has played extremely well since arriving in College Station, and he has some reliable targets to throw to in Christian Kirk, Josh Reynolds and Ricky Seals-Jones. Plus, Myles Garrett will be a top-five draft pick. He’s a little banged up right now, but the guy is still a dominating force on the defensive side of the ball. And Armani Watts is a ballhawk, and I love the way he plays.
Texas A&M will be the highest-ranked 1-loss team in the first College Football Playoff Rankings for several reasons. First, outside of the Alabama game, the Aggies have looked spectacular. Heck, even though they were pushed around in the first half against Bama, they still only went into the half down six. A&M even held a brief second-half lead before the dam broke.
Also working in A&M’s favor is the serial position effect. Ohio State did not look good last week against Northwestern – a team it should have theoretically steamrolled at home. That performance came on the backside of a loss to Penn State. Louisville nearly lost to Virginia last week, and looked equally shaky against Duke in Week 7. Did the Cards peak early? Nebraska is coming off a loss, and Florida’s offense is as bad as the defense is good (see: very).
A&M has the “best loss” of the three viable candidates, plays in the nation’s most difficult division, and boasts the luxury of a week off to let the Alabama defeat drift from voters’ minds.
This past week when I released my 1-128 rankings, I placed Texas A&M as the top one-loss team (No. 5 overall), because its body of work needed to be rewarded. The Aggies led Alabama 14-13 well into the third quarter of their eventual loss to the top team in the land, and they have a win over Auburn, which is all of a sudden one of the best (if not the best) two-loss team in the country. Louisville and Ohio State deserve some strong consideration, but Kevin Sumlin has done a wonderful coaching job this year. Defensive coordinator John Chavis is settling in nicely in his second season, and the offense looks cohesive once again. A&M is the best one-loss team in the country and will be ranked so when the first College Football Playoff Rankings are released.
When asked questions such as these, I try to find which team would beat the rest on a neutral field at the end of the season. And, despite some recent hiccups, I still believe Ohio State would beat Texas A&M, Louisville, Florida, Baylor, West Virginia, etc., in a bowl game. The Buckeyes are going to take Nebraska out of this conversation Saturday.
We can talk about body of work and see that Ohio State’s loss to Penn State isn’t as “impressive” as, say, A&M’s loss to Alabama or Louisville’s defeat at Clemson. And yes, the Buckeyes did have their problems with Northwestern this past week. But A&M also had to go to overtime with a bad UCLA team at home and needed two OTs to beat Tennessee, which has lost three in a row after falling to (gasp) South Carolina.
Louisville needed late scores to put away both Duke and Virginia. The latter of which was last weekend when Lamar Jackson threw a touchdown pass with 13 seconds remaining to bail out the Cardinals.
Bottom line, I think Ohio State is the best of the one-loss teams in the country when considering its weapons on both sides of the ball. And if any of the unbeatens fall from the top four of the College Football Playoff Rankings, it should be Ohio State jumping in to replace them.