Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields

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Chen: Earning Top Seed In CFP Crucial For Ohio State

The Buckeyes currently sit No. 1 in the playoff rankings.

Mike Chen
December 06, 2019 - 12:52 pm

(670 The Score) The Big Ten's two-year drought is over -- or at least it should be when the final College Football Playoff rankings are revealed Sunday afternoon.

Shut out of the playoff for the last two years, the Big Ten should be represented by Ohio State on the biggest stage this season. Undefeated at 12-0, the Buckeyes have put themselves in position to represent the Big Ten for the third time in the playoff era as they ready to host the Wisconsin Badgers in the Big Ten championship game Saturday.

What remains to be seen is what seed Ohio State will earn. It jumped LSU for the No. 1 spot in the playoff rankings last week, and staying there is a priority. The top seed projects to have an easier national semifinal matchup, as undefeated defending national champion Clemson sits at No. 3. The top three teams are considered elite, while less complete teams like Utah, Oklahoma and Baylor are in the mix for the No. 4 spot should Georgia fall to LSU in the SEC championship game.

Both Ohio State and LSU would prefer to not face Clemson in the national semifinal. Like Ohio State, Clemson boasts a top-four scoring offense and a top-four scoring defense in the country. 

Beating Wisconsin a second time this season would further solidify Ohio State's resume and keep it in line for the No. 1 seed. Even with a loss, most pundits -- myself included -- believe the Buckeyes will make the playoff, but they'd certainly fall out of the top spot. 

There's a line of thought that if Ohio State doesn't look good in a win against Wisconsin and LSU wins impressively against Georgia, then the Tigers could vault back into the top spot. LSU certainly has the potential to do its part, as it has Heisman Trophy front-runner Joe Burrow leading an offense that ranks second nationally in scoring behind Ohio State. LSU's question mark -- when assessed against other elite teams -- is its defense, as it allows more than 10 more points per game than Ohio State and Clemson. 

To put itself in the best position, Ohio State will need to again take care of a Wisconsin team that it beat 38-7 in Columbus on Oct. 26. The Badgers have been one of the best teams in the Big Ten for a decade, even though they rarely receive their due. Their 102 wins since 2010 rank second in the Big Ten to the Buckeyes' 116, and they're playing in the conference championship game for the sixth time in the ninth year of its existence. Wisconsin has won two Big Ten titles in that span.

As is often the case at this time of year, chaos could ensue. As this weekend plays out, keeping the No. 1 ranking in the College Football Playoff standings will be crucial for coach Ryan Day and Ohio State, as their path to another national championship will be much more manageable if they avoid facing LSU or Clemson in the semifinals.

Mike Chen is a producer at 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @mfc2123.