COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The College Football Playoff is one month away and it’s time for Rivalry Week on the second live episode of Gridiron Nation: The Path to the Playoff.
If the playoff started tomorrow, it would like like this: No. 1 Ohio State, No. 2 LSU, No. 3 Clemson and No. 4 Georgia. We’ll break down all four teams and more, streaming live right here at 2pm EST, starting with the no. 1 Ohio State Buckeyes.
No. 1 OSU
After a couple weeks at no. 2, Ohio State (11-0, 8-0 Big Ten) is back on top. The Buckeyes’ offense is just as impressive as LSU’s with OSU ranking fourth in total offense with 530 yards a game and first in scoring offense with 49 points a game. Justin Fields remains in contention for the Heisman trophy as well and is fourth in the country with 43 total touchdowns. 33 of those are passing TD’s and his 10 rushing touchdowns ranks sixth best in the country. Fields’ total passing yards and passing touchdowns is hard to compare to other top quarterbacks because he’s missed time due to large Ohio State leads. But one category that’s indicative of his talent is his touchdown-to-interception ratio. He has 31 passing touchdowns and just one interception, far and away the best of any quarterback in college football. Here’s a look at all of his 43 touchdowns this season:
The other offensive juggernaut for the Buckeyes is junior running back J.K. Dobbins. Despite not playing in several second halves due to a substantial leads, Dobbins still ranks fourth in the country with 1,446 rushing yards and seventh in rushing touchdowns with 15.
The biggest difference between the Tigers and Buckeyes is defense. Ohio State ranks first in total defense only allowing 217 yards a game and also first in scoring defense only giving up 10.5 points a game. Ohio State is also first in total team efficiency with a rating of 97.2, nearly two points higher than second place Clemson. In that category, Ohio State has the second-most efficient offense (94.6) and the second-most efficient defense (92.9).
Former Buckeye assistant coach Bill Conley will take a look at the Buckeyes’ outlook.
No. 2 LSU
The Tigers blew out Arkansas as expected and clinched the SEC West title, securing a date with Georgia in the SEC Championship on December 7th. LSU (11-0, 8-0 SEC) has the nation’s No. 2 scoring offense with 48.5 points a game and also the nation’s No. 2 total offense with 561 yards a game. That’s due in large part to former Ohio State Buckeye and current LSU quarterback Joe Burrow. The Athens, Ohio native ranks second in the country in both passing touchdowns (41) and passing yards (4,014) and is the current favorite to win the Heisman trophy.
The one flaw LSU has is its defense, especially in the secondary. The Tigers rank 43rd in total defense and 70th in passing yards allowed. The Tigers could very well clinch a spot in the College Football Playoff with a win over Texas A&M this Saturday because even if they lose to Georgia, LSU still has wins over Texas, Florida, Auburn and Alabama.
WGNO’s sports director Ed Daniels will give us the low down on the no. 2 LSU Tigers
No. 3 Clemson
The only team more efficient on defense is the third-ranked Clemson Tigers (11-0, 8-0 ACC).
Along with being the country’s most efficient defense (97.1), the Tigers have the second-best total defense by only allowing 238 yards a game. They’re defense is also ranked third-best in scoring as the Tigers only allow 10.7 points a game. The offense, led by sophomore quarterback Trevor Lawrence, ranks fifth in scoring with 46 points a game and third in total offense with 543 yards a game.
WSPA Sports Director Pete Yanity will break down Clemson’s chances.
No. 4 Georgia
Rounding out the top four is the No. 4 Georgia Bulldogs (10-1, 7-1 SEC). The Bulldogs survived another close game last week, this time edging out Texas A&M 19-13 at home.
The Bulldogs are the only team in the top four with a loss and it came at home in overtime on October 12th to unranked South Carolina. Georgia’s quality wins include Notre Dame, Florida and Auburn and they can add to it by beating LSU in the SEC Championship. Georgia is right behind the Buckeyes in scoring defense and tied with Clemson allowing only 10.7 points a game and the Dawgs are fifth in total defense giving up just 268 yards a game.
But just like LSU, Georgia has a flaw that could be its downfall. The Bulldogs’ offense ranks 54th in scoring offense at 31.2 points a game and 62nd in total offense with 413 yards a game. The problem is not the rushing attack, which averages nearly 200 yards a game, but rather the passing game with UGA ranking 81st in country at 215 yards a game.
WRBL Sports Director Rex Castillo has the inside information on the Bulldogs.
No. 5 Alabama
No. 5 Alabama (10-1, 6-1 SEC) is currently on the outside looking in with one loss to No. 1 LSU and the Crimson Tide have a clear path into the CFP if LSU beats Georgia in the SEC Championship. WIAT Sports Director Chris Breece has the latest on the Crimson Tide.
KFOR Sports Director Brian Brinkley and KWKT Sports Director Matt Roberts will also discuss the chances of Oklahoma and Baylor.