Ohio State finally took control of its game against Indiana in the fourth quarter. That was still better than Florida State.
As usual, the only time the Seminoles were in control against Boston College was when the game was over.
After a week in which game control became a thing — too much of a thing, really — a couple of College Football Playoff contenders gave the selection committee something to think about by taking a while to put away big underdogs.
The Buckeyes played a sloppy first half, turned the ball over three times and couldn’t contain Indiana star Tevin Coleman — though very few have this season.
Ohio State, sixth in the latest playoff rankings, finally pulled away with a late barrage and beat the Hoosiers 42-27 in Columbus, Ohio.
The Buckeyes outgained Indiana by 132 yards, but it wasn’t their best day.
“We have some work to do. Sometimes in college football, things don’t go exactly as scripted,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said.
The Buckeyes were behind Mississippi State (No. 4) and TCU (No. 5) in the playoff rankings and ahead of Baylor. All have lost one game, and committee chairman Jeff Long said last week there was a narrow margin between the four.
Mississippi State had no issues against Vanderbilt, 51-0. TCU was off. Baylor beat Oklahoma State 49-28 in a game it controlled most of the way and led 42-14 going into the fourth quarter.
The Buckeyes are still dealing with that resume-wrecking loss to Virginia Tech — which didn’t look any better Saturday when the Hokies lost 6-3 in double overtime to lowly Wake Forest. Will a less-than-overwhelming win be a problem for Ohio State when the committee gets together on Monday and releases its rankings Tuesday?
The committee nicked TCU last week, dropping it a spot after it struggled to beat Kansas and talked about how the Horned Frogs didn’t control the game. Meanwhile, Alabama jumped to No. 1 because it did control the game while beating Mississippi State.
ESPN has an advanced metric called game control that is not used by the committee, but the mention of it by the network’s analysts after Long’s weekly appearance caused all kinds of confusion for fans. It even started an Internet meme, as #gamecontrol was popping up all over Twitter on Saturday.
Florida State is the anti-game control team. The Seminoles are still the only undefeated Big Five conference team after beating Boston College 20-17 on a last-second field goal.
“The majority of the games we’ve played this year have been like this game,” Jameis Winston said. “So this isn’t anything new.
Third in the latest rankings, Florida State doesn’t seem to be in any danger of falling out of the top four.
The ‘Noles might not control many games, but they seem to control their path to the playoff.
Just keep winning.
BRUINS ARE BACK
UCLA could get into the playoff with two losses.
The Bruins (9-2) beat up crosstown rival Southern California 38-20 and are one victory from winning the Pac-12 South, which ranks up there with the SEC West as the toughest division in the country.
UCLA can clinch a trip to the Pac-12 title game and a rematch with Oregon by beating Stanford next week. The Bruins started the season with some shaky wins and then lost a close one to Utah and a lopsided game to Oregon. Every passing week, though, the Bruins’ resume is looking better. All but one of the Bruins’ opponents could end up bowl eligible. They played only one team from outside a big conference, and both of their nonconference games against Big Five opponents were away from home.
UCLA would get a rematch against Oregon in the Pac-12 title game. Win it and they’ll have as good a case for being in the playoff as any team.
This weekend didn’t have much juice on the schedule. That changes next weekend.
TCU at Texas on Thanksgiving.
The Iron Bowl with Auburn at Alabama.
The Egg Bowl with Mississippi State at Mississippi. The Rebels come in limping after a 30-0 loss to Arkansas. Does that hurt the Bulldogs’ chances of making the playoff without winning the SEC championship? Hard to tell.
Michigan at Ohio State.
Florida at Florida State.
PROJECTING THE NEXT TOP FOUR
Same as the last top four: Alabama, Oregon, Florida State, Mississippi State.
PROJECTING THE FINAL FOUR
No reason to change now, though it’s a tough week to stick with the Buckeyes: Alabama, Oregon, Florida State, Ohio State.
AP Sports Writer Rusty Miller in Columbus, Ohio, and Kareem Copeland in Tallahassee, Florida, contributed.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.twitter.com/ralphdrussoap
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