The initial College Football Playoff rankings were released Tuesday night, and Ohio State was ranked first.
If the Buckeyes are to be believed, they did not care at all about it.
“I think it’s for the fans,” coach Ryan Day said. “It doesn’t mean anything to us because if we lose this weekend, we’re not going to be in the top four, that’s for sure.”
Also in the top four were and No. 2 LSU, No. 3 Alabama and No. 4 Penn State.
Ohio State (8-0) plays visiting Maryland on Saturday. The Buckeyes are 43-point favorites.
That’s not far off the margin of victory Ohio State has averaged this season, and it’s why the Buckeyes were safely in the top four.
Ohio State has not been in the top four of the playoff rankings since it finished third in the final 2016 standings and then lost 31-0 to Clemson in the semifinals. The Buckeyes finished sixth last year, their highest playoff ranking of the season.
On Tuesday, the Buckeyes had a legitimate chance to hold the top spot, though LSU’s victories over Texas, Florida and Auburn when those opponents were in the top 10 made the Tigers the favorite to be No. 1.
Day said he wasn’t even curious about where the Buckeyes might be ranked.
“Not really, no,” he said. “Because again, it doesn’t matter if we don’t continue to win. What matters is the record at the end of the season, where you’re ranked at the end.”
That’s not to say Day has completely stayed silent to his team about how its success has put them in a good position.
“In the team meeting I said, ‘Congrats, you’re relevant in November,’ ” Day said. “There’s something to be said for that, absolutely. That’s where you want to be right now in November — be relevant. We are. That’s good. But the rankings and all that stuff really shouldn’t be any of our focus.”
Quarterback Justin Fields was even more dismissive of the rankings.
“I have zero interest because it doesn’t matter until we’re done,” the sophomore said. “Hopefully, we make it to the Big Ten championship. After that game, that’s what matters. We’re just trying to (go) week by week because we know no matter where they rank us today, that won’t affect us.
“I don’t care if they put us 25, to be honest.”
The Buckeyes’ best wins have been against Wisconsin, Cincinnati and probably Indiana.
Maryland looked like it might rank as a quality opponent when it outscored Howard and Syracuse 142-20 to start the season. But injuries that exposed a lack of depth have ravaged the Terrapins, who’ve beaten only Rutgers since then.
Maryland took Ohio State to the limit last year in a 52-51 loss. Anthony McFarland ran for 298 yards and the Terrapins gained 535 yards in all. They failed to pull the upset only because of an errant pass on a two-point conversion in overtime.
“That was a wild game,” Day said.
That memory provides a bit of a cautionary tale this week when all the talk is about CFP rankings. Day said he has reminded his team repeatedly not to overlook anybody.
“You’re dealing with 18-, 19-, 20-year-old young men,” Day said. “You have to make sure you’re on top of them.”