Derek Peterson | 1 hour ago
Michigan sits right on the edge of the College Football Playoff field with one regular-season game to play.
The latest CFP rankings, revealed Tuesday night, had the Wolverines at No. 5. A win over No. 2 Ohio State would easily bump Michigan up into the top 4. It would also put the Wolverines in the Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis. High stakes for coach Jim Harbaugh.
The Wolverines have garnered respect from the CFP since the first set of rankings. CFP chair Gary Barta said during a teleconference call with the media Tuesday night that it has been the complete nature of the team that has kept them high in the rankings despite a late-October loss to Michigan State.
“Michigan, we’ve talked—especially the last several weeks—about just them being a complete football team,” Barta began. “They’re well balanced. Their offense and defense are both ranked nationally in most categories. Their best win to date is at Wisconsin. They also had a good win at Penn State. Very good football team, well-balanced, and obviously looking forward to watching Ohio State and Michigan play this weekend.”
The Wolverines sit ahead of No. 6 Notre Dame and No. 7 Oklahoma State, both 1-loss teams in their own right. The Cowboys have Bedlam coming up and Oklahoma just re-entered the top-10. Notre Dame will finish up its regular season with a game against Stanford.
That cluster of teams is close. But Michigan has the edge because it has the best wins of the group, Barta said.
“I think the win at Penn State has gotten the committee’s attention,” Barta said. “Michigan has also been a well-balanced team pretty much all year, so it’s been a consistency for most of the year. Notre Dame started out a little bit slower. They’ve certainly come on.
“… Oklahoma State, their defense has been terrific. They have a great win against Baylor. Texas Tech couldn’t do anything against Oklahoma State’s defense this past weekend. Their offense shows signs at times. They do enough, Spencer Sanders and that group do enough, but they’re more defensive-minded. They have the loss on the road at Iowa State.
“So all of that is considered, and that just gives you a sense of some of the things we talked about among those three teams.”
The Wolverines (10-1, 7-1 Big Ten) host the Buckeyes (10-1, 8-0 Big Ten) Saturday at noon ET on FOX.