The first College Football Playoff rankings are set to be released Tuesday night.
Don’t expect a reaction from Ohio State’s head coach of quarterback, though.
That was one of six takeaways from the first press conference of the week with the Buckeyes.
1. Ryan Day told his team, “Congrats, you’re relevant in November.”
The coach is not taking his 8-0 team’s status for granted, but he seems to want the Buckeyes to know they are far from finished with their journey.
“There's something to be said for that, absolutely,” Day said. “That's where you want to be right now in November, is be relevant. We are. That's good.
“But the rankings and all that stuff really shouldn't be any of our focus.”
2. Justin Fields is on the same page.
The quarterback of the Buckeyes may not have lived through as many football seasons as his coach, but he seems to share a similar playoff perspective this point of the season.
“I have zero interest because it doesn’t matter,” the sophomore first-year starter said. "Hopefully we make it to the Big Ten championship but after that game is when it matters.”
He doubled down when asked again.
“I don’t care if they put us 25 to be honest.”
3. Day is for expanding the playoff field, though.
ESPN surveyed the coaches of the Power 5 conference schools, and 30 of the 62 who responded said they want to see more than four teams make the playoff.
Day was among that group, but he did not want to elaborate much on his position Tuesday.
“I don't think now is the time to really get into all of that, but I do believe if you win your conference, you should get into some sort of playoff,” he said. “I really don't want to get into that. That's a conversation for the off-season.”
No such requirement is included in the current iteration of the playoff, which began in 2014. The selection committee is instructed to weigh conference championships among multiple factors, but its choices have not necessarily reflected that in previous years.
Ohio State and Alabama both made the final four (in separate seasons) without even qualifying for their conference championship games, and SEC runner-up Georgia was ranked ahead of the Big Ten champion Buckeyes last year in the final rankings.
4. The Buckeyes do care about being ready for Maryland on Saturday.
The Terrapins will limp into Ohio Stadium on a four-game losing streak, including a 38-7 loss at home to Michigan last weekend.
“Again, if you're where we're at right now, when you're undefeated at this point the season, they're all big. If you don't think they're big, try losing one, see how that goes. They're all big. We got to stay locked in on today's practice, this week, then we go from there.”
5. They will remember getting gashed by the Terrapins last season.
Coaches often waffle between wanting their players to live in the moment and recall the past.
This week Day expects his team’s defense to be motivated by the last time they saw Maryland, a 52-51 overtime win in the next-to-last game of the regular season.
In a season full of bad days for the Ohio State defense, that was arguably the worst as the Buckeyes gave up 535 yards, including 339 on the ground.
Anthony McFarland started the onslaught with an 81-yard touchdown run in the first minute and later added a 75-yard scoring jaunt on his way to a 298-yard day.
“I think they know how dangerous the running game is,” Day said. “It was only a year ago they played against them. Ran for 300 yards. They know that. I don't think they're proud of that. They want to do a better job this time around, for sure.”
6. He will probably check out the biggest game of the day after the Buckeyes are done.
The marquee game of the day is without a doubt No. 1 LSU playing at No. 2 Alabama on CBS at 3:30 p.m.
With Ohio State-Maryland set to start at noon, Day hopes to be able to catch at least some of it before settling in for a night with his family camped out in front of the television.
“I've said this before: One of my favorite things to do is after a noon win, go home, sit in the recliner with the family, order food and watch games. I love that. That's some of my favorite memories,” Day said. “We get in the car and go home, the family gets together, we turn up the music real loud after a win, drive up 315, sit on the couch, enjoy each other, turn the fire on, watch games. If you talk about being happy, that's me being happy on a Saturday afternoon. Whatever game is on, we'll watch it. Hopefully that's the case on Saturday.”
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