Josh Furlong's AP Top 25: Ohio State takes major step forward as others drop

Ohio State receiver Garrett Wilson celebrates his touchdown against Michigan State during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021, in Columbus, Ohio.

Ohio State receiver Garrett Wilson celebrates his touchdown against Michigan State during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021, in Columbus, Ohio. (Jay LaPrete, Associated Press)

Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — Welcome to the party Ohio State!

The Buckeyes have been trending up for the last few weeks, but nobody saw them dismantling No. 7 Michigan State the way they did Saturday morning. It really only took one half of play, but what a spectacular half. Quarterback CJ Stroud was unstoppable, unguardable and unforgiving as he picked apart the Spartans defense en route to a 49-0 halftime score.

After that performance, there's little doubt Ohio State is a playoff contender. Week 2 Ohio State seems lightyears away from what was on the field Saturday — and I don't think it's an anomaly, either. The Buckeyes are only getting better, so it's time to jump on the train if you haven't already done so.

My eyes may be deceiving me, but Ohio State deserves the No. 2 spot in my poll this week. I think their body of work and the way the team has been trending merits the bump. If you've followed, I've talked a lot about how I felt Ohio State was a more complete team than Oregon, which is why I had them above the Ducks despite the head-to-head results.

That point is only strengthened after the weekend's games.

Here's a look at some of my other picks for the week:

  • Cincinnati was the biggest Utah fans this week, and for good reason. Although I've had the Bearcats No. 2 in my ballot for some time, they'll likely get a boost in the playoff rankings due to the Utes dismantling the Ducks. I still think Cincinnati is one of the best teams in the country, but I think Ohio State has moved past them at this point. I dropped them to No. 3, so nothing too crazy as I think they still merit a high ranking. They, too, got a dominant win, so it was tough to move them down.
  • I dropped Alabama to No. 4 this week to account for Ohio State's jump up. The Crimson Tide are still one of the best football teams in the country — in case you somehow forgot — but they're not a complete team ... yet. A 7-point win over Arkansas is nothing to scoff at, but some previous victories haven't held up as much over time — you can thank Florida for one of them.
  • Michigan State is still a solid team; the Spartans just ran up against a buzzsaw in Ohio State that wasn't going to be stopped. Clearly there are some issues that need to be resolved — pass defense to start — but Mel Tucker has his program on the right path. The Spartans drop to No. 11 in my ballot this week.
  • Some will say Oregon was exposed as frauds — and those people may be right. The Ducks have been holding on to their win over Ohio State as their "get-out-of-jail free card" for some time, but stop their run game and they don't have much they can do, as Utah showed. Oregon has its flaws, but has the makings (and talent) to still be a good program — just not a team in the top 5. They move to No. 12 this week in my ballot.
  • Oh Wake Forest. They're a team that I describe as all flash, no sizzle. If you limit their scoring, there's nothing they can do stay in the game. The Demon Deacons have the ability to put a serious amount of points on the board, but that's about it. The defense isn't anything special and got caught against a Clemson team starting to come into its own. I dropped Wake Forest to No. 22 this week, but I've admittedly not been sold on them this year despite their scoring ways. Clemson enters back into my ballot at No. 25.
  • Utah moves up to No. 16 (from No. 22) in my ballot after a dominant performance over Oregon. For two teams that preach about physicality, it was Utah that won the battle in the trenches and limited the impact of projected No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft Kayvon Thibodeaux. Utah also limited the Ducks to 63 rushing yards, which undercut the team's bread and butter.

Checking in: Clemson, NC State

Dropping out: Arkansas, Utah State

In consideration: Arkansas, Coastal Carolina, Mississippi State, Purdue

If you can't see the poll below, click here.


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