College football rankings: This is the Ohio State team that can beat Michigan

In the second half of Ohio State’s 37-3 thumping of Minnesota on Saturday, we finally saw the Buckeyes team we had hoped to see all season. And right on time, too.

The Buckeyes and Wolverines will both be 11-0 when they meet in The Game next Saturday (noon ET on FOX and the FOX Sports app). And they’ll also both be ranked among the four best teams in the sport for the second time in as many years — just the third time since 2006.

While the Wolverines have been the better team for the last two years, these Buckeyes are rounding into form offensively at a moment when their defense remains stifling. 

The Buckeyes have outscored their last two opponents by a combined margin of 75-6, while the Wolverines have survived their last two opponents by a combined score of 55-39.

And J.J. McCarthy’s play has not been as inspiring as Kyle McCord’s has been. McCarthy completed just 12 of 23 passes for 141 yards with an INT against Maryland. McCord was 19-of-29 for 320 yards and two TDs against these same Terps earlier this year.

For the first time in the last three meetings, The Game feels like a fair fight. 

The Buckeyes not only have momentum but possess two outstanding home run hitters — Marvin  Harrison Jr. and TreVeyon Henderson — to combat the play of Blake Corum and Roman Wilson.

Should Michigan be concerned about Ohio State?

Should Michigan be concerned about Ohio State?

If the Buckeyes can put together the kind of offensive onslaught they displayed against the Gophers on Saturday, they will leave little doubt who the best team is in the Big Ten Conference.

Here are my Top 25 rankings after Week 12.

1. Georgia (11-0)

Defeated Tennessee, 38-10

Carson Beck has rounded into one of the three best quarterbacks in the SEC. He completed 24 of 30 for 298 yards with three TDs in the win.

Carson Beck has Georgia looking like the best team in college football

Carson Beck has Georgia looking like the best team in college football

2. Ohio State (11-0)

Defeated Minnesota, 37-3

TreVeyon Henderson kicked the offense into gear with 146 rushing yards and two TDs — including a 75-yard TD to begin the second half for the Buckeyes.

3. Michigan (11-0)

Defeated Maryland, 31-24

Michigan running back Blake Corum took ownership of his school’s career rushing TD record with his 50th and 51st. He also has 20 rushing TDs on the season, and his next will give him the school’s single-season record, which is held by his former teammate Hassan Haskins.

How Michigan could look vs. Ohio State in ‘The Game’

How Michigan could look vs. Ohio State in 'The Game'

4. Washington (11-0)

Defeated Oregon State, 22-20

Michael Penix Jr. completed just 13 of 28 passes for 162 yards and two TDs. But seven of those passes, 106 of those yards and both of those TDs were to Rome Odunze, who added to a résumé that should make him an All-American.

5. Florida State (11-0) 

Defeated North Alabama, 58-13

FSU Heisman hopeful Jordan Travis suffered a season-ending injury in the game. Though the Noles remain undefeated and will play for the ACC Championship, losing Travis certainly hurts their chance of winning their first national title in a decade.

FSU quarterback Tate Rodemaker completed 13 of 23 for 217 yards with two TDs in relief.

6. Oregon (10-1)

Defeated Arizona State, 49-13

Ducks QB Bo Nix added to his Heisman résumé by completing 24 of 29 passes for 404 yards and six TDs in the win.

Bo Nix throws for a career-high SIX TDs

Bo Nix throws for a career-high SIX TDs

7. Texas (10-1)

Defeated Iowa State, 26-16

In their first game without star tailback Jonathon Brooks, Texas running back C.J. Baxter rushed 20 times for 117 yards in the win.

8. Alabama (10-1)

Defeated Chattanooga, 66-10

Having clinched the SEC West title, the Tide celebrated Senior Day by scoring at least 14 points in every quarter of their win.

9. Louisville (10-1)

Defeated Miami, 38-31

An outstanding Year 1 in Jeff Brohm’s return to Louisville continues. The Cardinals’ win against the Canes put them into the ACC title game against undefeated FSU.

10. Penn State (9-2)

Defeated Rutgers, 27-6

Despite firing offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich earlier this week, the Nittany Lions earned a win against the bowl-eligible Scarlet Knights. PSU’s only losses are to 11-0 opponents Ohio State and Michigan.

Kaytron Allen punches in the touchdown vs. Rutgers

Kaytron Allen punches in the touchdown vs. Rutgers

11. Ole Miss (9-2) 

Defeated Louisiana-Monroe, 35-3

The Rebels outscored the WarHawks 28-0 in the second half.

12. Missouri (9-2)

Defeated Florida, 33-31

Mizzou wideout Luther Burden caught nine passes for 158 yards, running back Cody Schrader rushed for 148 yards on 23 carries, and quarterback Brady Cook completed 20 of 35 for 331 with a TD in the win.

13. Oklahoma (9-2)

Defeated BYU, 31-24

The Sooners played the second half without star quarterback Dillon Gabriel and muscled out a one-score win to keep themselves in contention for a chance to play in the Big 12 title game.

No. 14 Oklahoma beats BYU after Dillon Gabriel leaves with injury

No. 14 Oklahoma beats BYU after Dillon Gabriel leaves with injury

14. Iowa (9-2)

Defeated Illinois, 15-13

The Hawkeyes lost quarterback Cade McNamara for the season earlier this year. Then they fired offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz and lost the program’s best player, Cooper DeJean, for the season last week.

Yet, they’re 9-2 and will play the winner of Ohio State-Michigan for the Big Ten Championship.

15. Oregon State (8-3) 

Lost to Washington, 22-20

Damien Martinez rushed 123 yards on 26 rushes with two TDs.

16. Kansas State (8-3)

Defeated Kansas, 31-27

The Wildcats were outgained in this one, but Will Howard’s 15-yard TD run in the fourth quarter proved to be the difference. 

17. Arizona (8-3)

Defeated Utah, 42-18

The Wildcats have beaten four ranked opponents. No one has beaten more ranked opponents this season.

18. Tulane (10-1)

Defeated Florida Atlantic, 24-8

The Green Wave’s only loss this season is to Ole Miss.

19. LSU (8-3)

Defeated Georgia State, 56-14

LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels added to his Heisman résumé with 509 total yards and eight total touchdowns in an easy win.

20. Oklahoma State (8-3)

Defeated Houston, 43-30

OSU running back Ollie Gordon got back on track with 25 rushes for 164 yards with three TDs.

21. Notre Dame (8-3)

Defeated Wake Forest, 45-7

Sam Hartman threw four TD passes against his former team.

22. Toledo (10-1)

Defeated Bowling Green, 32-31

The Rockets’ only loss this season came to Illinois … on a Hail Mary.

23. UNLV (9-2)

Defeated Air Force, 31-27

UNLV has won three straight, with two of those games coming on the road.

24. Liberty (11-0)

Defeated UMass, 49-25

Kaidon Salter passed for 225 yards and rushed for 118 more, scoring four total TDs.

25. SMU (9-2)

Defeated Memphis, 38-34

Preston Stone passed for 286 yards and three TDs as the Mustangs won their seventh straight.

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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