Michigan State rises in playoff stock watch

Connor Cook and the Spartans can emerge as new Big Ten favorites for the College Football Playoff. Allen Kee/ESPN Images

As we count down 50 days until the start of the 2014 college football season, ESPN Insider Travis Haney is answering at least one big question a day until South Carolina and Texas A&M’s kickoff on Aug. 28.

Heisman contenders, breakout freshmen, conference winners -- it will all be covered as part of Insider’s Ultimate Season Preview.

Today’s question: In honor of the College Football Playoff, which four teams' stock has been on the rise since the start of preseason camp, and which four teams have seen their stock drop?

Whether or not Ohio State is ultimately hopeless without Braxton Miller, we know that, at the bare minimum, the Buckeyes’ national title chances took a substantial hit when the playmaking senior quarterback re-injured his throwing shoulder last week.

Where there was previously a swirl of uncertainty and optimism around the Buckeyes -- who, mind you, haven’t lost a regular-season game since 2011 -- now only lies unsettling doubt.

“I already wasn’t sure about them,” one coach said last week, just after the Miller news hit. “Without [Miller], there’s no way. He got them out of so many bad plays. Who cares if he ever became a [pure] passer? The kid made things happen.”

You know what’s distinctly possible? An 0-2 start. Would you be all that stunned if the Miller-less Bucks, trying to figure things out and establish a new identity, stumbled against both Navy and Virginia Tech? Those are not bad teams, folks. And ESPN's recently-updated Football Power Index now has OSU ranked No. 12, down six spots minus Braxton.

For the obvious reason of losing what might have been college football’s most valuable player to his team’s playoff chances, Ohio State leads our discussion of teams with shifting stock during August.

And in each case, there is a beneficiary on the rise. That is to say, for every Ohio State, there’s a Michigan State.