FOX Sports College Football Analyst
Former Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith knows what’s at stake for his Buckeyes in the latest edition of college football’s most storied rivalry.
“I mean, it’s everything,” Smith said of “The Game” between Ohio State and Michigan. “The emotion is deep. The tensions are high. Special players come out in special games and it will create a buzz for the rest of your life.”
Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith on ‘The Game’
RJ Young talks with former Ohio State QB Troy Smith about Saturday’s big game, 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 played in “The Game” the last time both teams entered undefeated, and he also did so while feeling the heat of the Heisman Trophy.
Current Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud faces that kind of pressure, and Smith wants to win all the team and individual accolades he can.
“I want it to be the eighth,” Smith told me, referring to the seven previous Heisman trophies on display at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. “I want him to go on and bring home another Heisman Trophy. Hopefully we’ll high-five him on stage. You know what I mean, in New York.”
As for the CFP, the latest rankings revealed Tuesday had the Buckeyes holding steady at No. 2 and the Wolverines at No. 3. This is the first time these teams have been ranked that high in the CFP era and the first time since Smith’s appearance in 2006.
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RJ Young reacts to the latest CFP rankings, including two-loss LSU moving to No. 5 and 10-1 USC to No. 6.
What’s at stake? The Buckeyes are not only playing for the Big Ten East division title and a berth in the Big Ten Championship, but for CFP purposes, they are playing for one of their best wins of the season.
No. 1-ranked Georgia currently owns its best win of this campaign, a 27-13 victory over former No. 1-ranked Tennessee that at the time was the Volunteers’ first loss of their season.
While the winner of Michigan-Ohio State would be an invite to the CFP, a close game does not disqualify the loser. With important games throughout the final weekend of the season and conference championships to be played next, there is a chance for the top two Big Ten teams to make the CFP.
If No. 5 LSU gets buried by Georgia, that could help the Buckeyes even if they lose to the Wolverines for the second straight season. It would also help if No. 6 USC loses to No. 15 Notre Dame. After all, the Irish would have wins over USC and the ACC champion — whether it turns out to be No. 8 Clemson or No. 17 North Carolina — and don’t forget that Ohio State beat ND this season.
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RJ Young discusses the CFP committee’s decision to drop the Tennessee Volunteers to No. 10 in the latest rankings.
Neither the Buckeyes nor the Wolverines will want to entertain that, though. Even now they are using every possible moment to prepare to win this weekend.
The Wolverines are looking to prove that last year’s dominating streak was no fluke, and that their days of being brutalized by the Buckeyes are over. And let’s not forget that former Michigan offensive coordinator Josh Gattis called OSU “a slick team, not a tough team.”
“To be honest,” OSU’s Cade Stover said Tuesday. “I really don’t give a s— what anybody else says about our toughness. We know what we’ve got.”
So here’s what’s at stake when Ohio State and Michigan meet Saturday (Noon ET on FOX and the FOX Sports app): Bragging rights, an undefeated season, a guaranteed CFP berth and, for Stroud, a possible Heisman Trophy.
It all hearkens back to 2006, the last time “The Game” carried this much weight, a weight Smith knows all too well.
“I remember that day vividly,” Smith said. “It’s a part of OSU history and I’m incredibly grateful to be there.”
Here are last week’s College Football Playoff standings, 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. Penn State (9-2)
12. Kansas State (8-3)
13. Washington (9-2)
14. Utah (8-3)
15. Notre Dame (8-3)
16. Florida State (8-3)
17. North Carolina (9-2)
18. UCLA (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)
25. Louisville (7-4)
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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