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College Football Playoff Rankings: What’s at stake for Ohio State?

Former Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith knows what’s at stake for his Buckeyes in the latest installment of college football’s most iconic rivalry.

“I mean, it’s everything,” Smith said of “The Game” between Ohio State and Michigan. “The emotions are deep. Tensions are high. Special players come out in special games and it will inspire excitement for the rest of your life.”

Heisman Trophy Winner Troy Smith on “The Game”

Heisman Trophy Winner Troy Smith on

RJ Young talks to former Ohio State QB Troy Smith about Saturday’s big matchup, CJ Stroud’s Heisman chances and more.

And while Smith hasn’t worn a Buckeyes helmet since the 2006 season — before the College Football Playoff era — he understands the pressures of 2022 better than most. After all, he starred in “The Game” when both teams went unbeaten last time out, and he did so while feeling the heat of the Heisman Trophy battle.

Current Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud is under that pressure, and Smith is committed to winning every team and individual title he can.

“I want him to be eighth,” Smith told me, referring to the seven previous Heisman trophies displayed at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. “I want him to go ahead and bring home another Heisman trophy. Hopefully we’ll hit fives with him on stage. You know what I mean, in New York.”

As for the CFP, the rankings released Tuesday showed the Buckeyes stable at No. 2 and the Wolverines firmly anchored at No. 3. This is the first time in the CFP era that these teams have been ranked this high, and the first time since Smith’s appearance in 2006.

Week 13 College Football Playoff Rankings

Week 13 College Football Playoff Rankings

RJ Young reacts to the latest CFP rankings including LSU with two losses moving to No. 5 and USC 10-1 moving to No. 6.

What’s at stake? Not only are the Buckeyes playing for the Big Ten East Division title and a spot in the Big Ten Championship, but for CFP purposes, they’re playing for one of the best wins of the season.

Currently, No. 1 Georgia holds the best win of the campaign, a 27-13 win over former No. 1 Tennessee, which at the time was the Volunteers’ first loss of their season.

While Michigan-Ohio State’s winner would be an invitation to the CFP, a close play does not disqualify the loser. With key games on the last weekend of the season and conference championships coming up next, the top two Big Ten teams have a chance to make it to the CFP.

Burying LSU’s No. 5 Georgia could help the Buckeyes even if they lose to the Wolverines for a second straight season. It would also help if No. 6 USC loses to No. 15 Notre Dame. After all, the Irish would have beaten USC and the ACC champion — whether that’s No. 8 Clemson or No. 17 North Carolina — and don’t forget Ohio State beat ND this season.

CFP Rankings Response: Tennessee Drops to 10th

CFP Rankings Response: Tennessee Drops to 10th

RJ Young examines the CFP Committee’s decision to rank the Tennessee Volunteers 10th in the latest ranking.

Neither the Buckeyes nor the Wolverines will want to entertain that, however. Already they are using every possible moment to prepare to win this weekend.

The Wolverines are looking to prove that last year’s stunning win was no fluke and that their days of being mauled by the Buckeyes are over. And let’s not forget that former Michigan offensive coordinator Josh Gattis called OSU “a finesse team, not a tough team.”

“To be honest,” Cade Stover said Tuesday. “I really don’t give a shit what other people say about our toughness. We know what we have.”

So here’s what’s at stake when Ohio State and Michigan meet Saturday (12 p.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports App): braggart rights, an unbeaten season, a guaranteed CFP spot and, for Stroud, a potential Heisman Trophy.

It all goes back to 2006, the last time “The Game” carried that much weight, a weight Smith knows very well.

“I remember that day vividly,” Smith said. “It’s part of OSU history and I’m incredibly grateful to be a part of it.”

Here are last week’s college football playoff rankings, with updated records and whether each team won or lost last week:

1. Georgia (11-0)
2. Ohio State (11-0)
3.Michigan (11-0)
4. TCU (11-0)
5.LSU (9-2)
6.USC (10-1)
7. Alabama (9-2)
8. Clemson (10-1)
9.Oregon (9-2)
10. Tennessee (9-2)
11 Pennsylvania (9-2)
12th State of Kansas (8-3)
13 Washington (9-2)
14 Utah (8-3)
15. Notre Dame (8-3)
16th Florida State (8-3)
17 North Carolina (9-2)
18UCLA (8-3)
19. Tulane (9-2)
20. Ole Miss (8-3)
21. Oregon State (8-3)
22.UCF (8-3)
23 Texas (7-4)
24. Cincinnati (9-2)
25Louisville (7-4)

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RJ Young is a national college football writer and analyst for FOX Sports and the host of the podcast “The number one college football show.” Follow him on Twitter at @RJ_Young and subscribe to The RJ Young Show on YouTube.

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