Who will be in the first CFP?

Well, hopefully when the end of the 2014 college football season comes down to the nitty-gritty, Ohio State – as predicted – will be in the running for a berth in the very first four-team College Football Playoff field.

As of right now, most national prognosticators and oddsmakers see the Buckeyes either finishing third or fourth.

OSU is at even odds (1/1) on Bovada Sportsbook of making the inaugural College Football Playoff and at -140 (5/7) odds of not making the playoffs.

Ohio State came in at the No. 4 – and final – spot after defending BCS national champion Florida State, at (2/7) odds of making it, Alabama was second at (5/4) and Oregon third, also at (1/1). Fifth was Oklahoma (7/4), followed by Auburn (7/4), LSU (9/4), UCLA (12/5) and Michigan State (9/4) to round out the top nine.

“I can’t say I’m very surprised by these odds, as it pretty much goes along with other outlets and most media members’ projections of where these teams will be ranked or who has the best shot of making the playoff,” said Adam Zagoria of Sportsnet New York.

With the start of the college football season just three months away, everyone is getting their picks in on who is going to wind up in the CFP, although The Sporting News was one of the few I saw that had the Buckeyes finishing out of the playoff mix at No. 9.

Athlon Sports has the Seminoles as the top pick to repeat as the national champions, and that’s fine and dandy. But now any one of the top four teams can win it.

And since Athlon has the Crimson Tide slotted at No. 2, Alabama would face off with the third-seeded Buckeyes in one playoff semifinal, while FSU would tangle with No. 4 Oklahoma in the other one. The talk will be not just about who’s going to finish No. 1 and No. 2, but who’s going to come in third and fourth as well. Each of the four best teams in the end will have a legitimate, on-the-field shot at winning the national championship.

The other day, I saw the commentators on ESPN’s College Football Live show giving their CFP predictions, numbering their top picks in order from 1 through 4 – Florida State, ‘Bama, OSU and Oregon. But they all hedged a little bit on Oregon, which they apparently saw as the weakest or least of the first four, and seemed to really like Pac-12 rival UCLA to be there instead when the playoffs begin.

For Ohio State this season, “the junket to Michigan State on Nov. 8 could be for all the marbles in the Big Ten East with a berth in the league championship game on the line,” said BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart of the Big Ten Network.

Of course, last season, the Spartans knocked off the undefeated Buckeyes 34-24 in the conference title tilt, although OSU squeaked out a 17-16 decision the last time it visited East Lansing in 2012.

Virginia Tech’s visit to Ohio Stadium on Sept. 6 highlights the Buckeyes’ non-conference slate. But now after realignment in the Big Ten, Dienhart views Michigan State as Ohio State’s “toughest conference game” this fall, with the Spartans and Buckeyes now foes in the East division.

Contact Steve Hemmelgarn at shemmelgarn@newsandsentinel.com