4. Are the USC Trojans the Pac-12’s best, and only, chance at making the playoff?
With a big test this week in the non-conference vs. Fresno State, it remains to be seen if the USC Trojans are the best team in the Pac-12. Although everybody and their brother anticipated the Trojans being markedly better under new head coach Lincoln Riley, are they ready to be the best, last chance of getting a Pac-12 team into the playoff this season? Oregon and Utah lost in Week 1.
Even if half of the Pac-12 is still undefeated through two weeks, it is hard to put a ton of stock in teams like Oregon State, UCLA and Washington State running the gauntlet. Ultimately, there will be a fourth team who pushes Oregon, USC and Utah this season, but we are a ways out from that happening. In the meantime, USC will keep on getting the benefit of the doubt from the AP voters.
The best thing for the Pac-12 this year is for the Trojans to be at least a 10-win team under Riley.
3. Will the Ohio State Buckeyes defense be improved enough to win the playoff?
The good news for Ohio State Buckeyes fans is Jim Knowles’ defense has held the opposition to 22 combined points over two games. 11 points allowed per game is national championship-caliber, but those two games came against a winless Notre Dame team and the fighting Butch Joneses hailing from Arkansas State. After getting to 3-0 past Toledo, Ohio State might be tested…
The Buckeyes play in the tougher of the two Big Ten divisions. While everybody knows what Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State are capable of, keep in mind that teams like Maryland can put up points, too. Although Ohio State has the offensive personnel to hang with anybody in a shootout, we still need to see if the defense can hold steady vs. the very best the Big Ten can offer.
If Ohio State can hold Michigan State and Penn State to under 20 points or so, now we are talking!