Even though Alabama appears to be the consensus No. 1 team headed into the 2017 season, the Tide aren’t necessarily a lock for the College Football Playoff.

There is another team, though, that is close to a lock as you can get. At least according to ESPN and the Power Football Index.

Ohio State.

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While ESPN’s College Football Power Index can’t predict who will make it to the College Football Playoff at the end of the year, it can lay out the odds a team has to finish the season unbeaten. And in this era in college football, if you win all your games, you’re getting into that four-team bracket.

The Buckeyes have been given a 35 percent chance to go undefeated this season, the highest percentage of any team in the FBS. Alabama was second with a 10 percent chance and Oklahoma (5.4 percent) and Washington (5 percent) rounded out the top four.

But how is it that Alabama can be considered the best team in the country and yet Ohio State has the best chance to get to the College Football Playoff? The article on ESPN.com gave two major reasons:

First, the Buckeyes are bringing back more starters (15) from last season’s playoff team than Alabama (11), and that’s a significant difference. In fact, though Ohio State finished fourth in FPI last season, the 15 starters returning are more than what any of the three teams that were ahead of the Buckeyes in 2016 bring back.

In addition to the four-player difference in returning starters, another factor looms large: Ohio State’s opponents. The Buckeyes have the 52nd-hardest schedule in the FBS, compared to Alabama’s 11th-toughest slate. That’s no surprise given that Alabama plays in the SEC, which has the highest average team FPI of all conferences, while the Big Ten has the fifth-highest average team FPI.

Despite all the backlash from Alabama fans – among others – it seems like legitimate reasoning behind the argument.

Ohio State has been to the College Football Playoff twice and Alabama has made an appearance all three years. Each team has won one national title since the inception of the new format.

The Buckeyes may have the best chance to get to the playoff, but don’t be surprised if both teams make their way into the national semifinals again this year.