Following Week 5, Alabama and Ohio State are No. 1 and 3, respectively, in the AP Poll.
The Buckeyes went on the road and knocked off No. 9 Penn State after taking the lead late in the fourth quarter and winning by a single point just like last year. Meanwhile, Alabama covered its’ 48-point spread against Louisiana-Lafayette before halftime.
Both teams will face some challenges down the stretch, but right now it looks like the Crimson Tide and the Buckeyes are two of the best teams in the country along with Georgia.
Both teams are in the top five in the nation in offense and garner over 550 yards of offense per game. Quarterbacks Tua Tagovailoa and Dwayne Haskins are turning into studs in their first season as starters.
Tagovailoa leads the entire nation in total quarterback rating (QBR) at 97.8 and Haskins isn’t far behind at sixth with a rating of 87.9. Alabama has always been known for great team play that could win championships with average quarterbacks. But the Tide have a great one. To grasp the greatness, the Hawaiian native (Tagovailoa) could end the season with the best QBR ever.
Ohio State played and beat two top-15 teams in September away from home. Now the Buckeyes’ schedule lightens up in October. The next ranked opponent they’ll face will be No. 20 Michigan State on the road in November. It seems like the most difficult challenge they’ll face will be on Nov. 24 at home against the Michigan Wolverines, who have one of the nation’s top defenses right now.
Alabama has had an easy go so far, and with Arkansas, Missouri, and Tennessee on the schedule this month, October will look like much of the same. But once November comes around, LSU will arguably be the Tide’s biggest test this season on the road. And Auburn, whom they’ll face at home on Nov. 24, is hardly a slouch when it comes to the Iron Bowl.
A lot can happen between now and December, but both teams will have extremely tough matchups in the conference championships assuming they make it. Ohio State is likely to face Wisconsin for the second consecutive year for the Big Ten title, and Alabama is likely to face Georgia in the SEC championship game, which the Tide missed last season.
The calendar just turned to October, so deciding now that the title game will be Ohio State and Alabama is a long shot prediction despite how two good they are. It will depend on the teams around them.
Last year, the two-loss, Big Ten champion Buckeyes were left out of the College Football Playoff in favor of Alabama, who didn’t make the SEC title game. With multiple quality teams near the top, the scarlet and grey will have minimal room for error when it comes to the playoff rankings. Alabama is entrenched in the No. 1 spot, so the Tide should have some flexibility.
But it seems like this year it’ll be even tougher to hold off the rest of the field.
As it stands, the top seven teams in the AP Poll are 5-0, including Georgia, Clemson, Oklahoma, LSU, and Notre Dame. And behind them are quality one-loss teams, such as Auburn, Washington, and Penn State, that will put up a fight for a playoff spot.
Oklahoma is being led by Kyler Murray, who is absolutely lighting up the stat sheet through five games. LSU has new life this season, beating top-10 teams like Miami and Auburn. Notre Dame has turned the corner with Ian Book igniting the Irish offense. And Georgia is leaps and bounds better than its’ SEC East competition.
Alabama is arguably the most complete team in the country, and not too far behind them is The Ohio State University. Georgia could play spoiler in this dream matchup, but for now, a Buckeyes-Crimson Tide collision course looks to be the path we’re on.