Top 25 Heat Check: Moving on from Ohio State

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A season's worth of skepticism about Ohio State was validated in a loss to Michigan State and the Buckeyes are no longer in the conversation to be No. 1.

Not now. Not for the rest of this season.

Repeating as national champion is hard, even for the first team to be a unanimous preseason No. 1 in the AP Top 25. The Buckeyes' offensive issues sprung up early in the season and were never resolved. When they finally played a team that could stand toe-to-toe with them, they wilted.

Maybe Urban Meyer messed up by making Cardale Jones the starting quarterback instead of J.T. Barrett? Maybe the Buckeyes did not realize how much they would miss former offensive coordinator and current Houston coach Tom Herman until he was gone? Maybe they needed to give the ball to Ezekiel Elliott more on Saturday against the Spartans?

At some point we'll get an autopsy out of Columbus, but for now the Buckeyes dropped from No. 2 to No. 8 in The Associated Press poll on Sunday and No. 3 Iowa is now the highest ranked Big Ten team and the conference's best bet to reach the playoff.

Now about the No. 3 ranking for the Hawkeyes ... time to heat check the latest AP Top 25 to see which teams are still getting too much love - or not enough - from the voters.

1. Clemson (11-0)

Does South Carolina losing to The Citadel make Clemson fans more or less worried about their rivalry game in Columbia?

Next: at South Carolina

Heat check: Just right.

2. Alabama (10-1)

"But what is Alabama's best win?" has become the "But Ohio State lost to Virginia Tech" of the 2015 season. Much as it was with those Buckeyes, if you can't tell the Crimson Tide is really good the conversation is over.

Next: at Auburn.

Heat check: Just right.

No. 3 Iowa (11-0)

At some point we might all owe the Hawkeyes an apology for doubting them. The Heat Checker is already looking for a nice card.

Next: at Nebraska.

Heat check: Too hot. Maybe some flowers to go with that card.

No. 4 Notre Dame (10-1)

BC always seems to make the Fighting Irish look bad - even when Notre Dame wins.

Next: at No. 13 Stanford.

Heat check: Too hot.

No. 5 Oklahoma (10-1)

The Sooners' season could very well come down to how QB Baker Mayfield is feeling after taking a hit to the head against TCU. Get well soon.

Next: at No. 9 Oklahoma State

Heat check: With Mayfield, too cold. Without, too hot.

No. 6 Michigan State (10-1)

A stat worth repeating: Michigan State is 6-1 in its last seven games against top-10 teams. All hail Mark Dantonio!

Next: Penn State.

Heat check: Too cold.

No. 7 Baylor (9-1)

If the Bears win the Big 12 playing a third-string quarterback and don't make the playoff, the Heat Checker would like to see that explained to Art Briles?

Next: at No. 15 TCU, Friday.

Heat check: Just right.

No. 8 Ohio State (10-1)

If Urban Meyer can get this bunch to rebound with a victory against that team up North, it will be one of his most impressive achievements in coaching.

Next: at No. 12 Michigan.

Heat check: Too hot.

No. 9 Oklahoma State (10-1)

In need of a Bedlam bounce back.

Next: No. 5 Oklahoma.

Heat check: Too hot.

No. 10 Florida (10-1)

Hard to dismiss that FAU debacle when the Gators' offense has been stumbling around for most of the season.

Next: No. 14 Florida State.

Heat check: Too hot.

No. 11 North Carolina (10-1)

Blacksburg party poopers.

Next: at NC State.

Heat check: Just right.

No. 12 Michigan (9-2)

No matter what happens on Saturday at the Big House this season is a success for the Wolverines. Michigan fans will say this as if they actually believe it this week.

Next: No. 8 Ohio State.

Heat check: Too cold.

No. 13 Stanford (9-2)

Remember when we said Stanford was out of the playoff race? Well, maybe not.

Next: No. 4 Notre Dame.

Heat check: Too cold.

No. 14 Florida State (9-2)

Scenario: The Semnioles beat Florida, which - somehow - upsets Alabama in the SEC championship game, leaving the SEC out of the playoff. Outside of a national title for FSU, is there anything that would make 'Noles fans happier right now?

Next: No. 10 Florida.

Heat check: Just right.

No. 15 TCU (9-2)

The Horned Frogs have had a long wait to avenge 61-58 at Baylor last year.

Next: No. 7 Baylor, Friday.

No. 16 Navy (9-1)

So joining a conference is working out pretty well for the Midshipmen so far. Navy is one win away from hosting the American Athletic Conference championship game.

Next: at No. 21 Houston.

Heat check: Too hot.

No. 17 Northwestern (9-2)

Coach Pat Fitzgerald is doing his more-with-less best this season.

Next: Illinois.

Heat check: Too hot.

No. 18 Oregon (8-3)

If this was basketball, Oregon would be the trendy No. 5 seed everybody was picking to advance in their brackets.

Next: Oregon State.

Heat check: Too cold.

No. 19 Mississippi (8-3)

The Egg Bowl is not quite the Iron Bowl when it comes to intense instate rivalries in the SEC, but it is much closer than you might think.

Next: at No. 23 Mississippi State.

Heat check: Just right.

No. 20 Washington State (8-3)

Cougars will go into the Apple Cup against Washington with a backup quarterback.

Next: at Washington.

Heat check: Just right.

No. 21 Houston (10-1)

The loss to UConn, without injured quarterback Greg Ward Jr., only cost the Cougars their unbeaten record. All the other good stuff - conference title, New Year's Six bowl - is still available.

Next: No. 16 Navy

Heat check: Too cold.

No. 22 UCLA (8-3)

The Los Angeles rivals will play for the Pac-12 South title to end up-and-down regular seasons for both teams.

Next: at Southern California.

Heat check: Just right.

No. 23 Mississippi State (8-3)

Dak Prescott won't win the Heisman Trophy. He probably won't even be a finalist. But his play has been worthy of serious consideration.

Next: No. 19 Mississippi.

Heat check: Prescott's Heisman campaign is too cold.

No. 24 Toledo (9-1)

The Rockets need Ohio to pull an upset at Northern Illinois to have a chance to play in the Mid-American Conference title game.

Next: Western Michigan.

Heat check: Just right.

No. 25 Temple (9-2)

Owls did well to get off the deck after losing to USF. One more win gets them to the American championship game with a chance to pay in a New Year's Six game.

Next: UConn.

Heat check: Just right.

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