It's becoming clearer how impressed the College Football Playoff Selection Committee is with the Big Ten conference. The Big Ten has four teams in the top eight in the latest rankings revealed on Tuesday.
Michigan remained No. 3 despite a loss to unranked Iowa on Saturday, while Ohio State is now No. 2.
Kirby Hocutt, the CFP selection committee chair, explained how Ohio State ended up No. 2 and Michigan stayed put.
“We look at the complete resume, from the beginning of the season until this past weekend,” said Hocuff.
“As we looked at Ohio State, we see a very talented team that has three wins over current CFP top 25 teams. The selection committee is very impressed with the past two games that we’ve seen Ohio State play. ... The only loss that Ohio State has is to a CFP top 10 team. So, in the committee’s eyes, Ohio State is deserving of that No.2 ranking this week.”
Hocuff said Michigan stayed in the No. 3 spot, because of its wins against Colorado, which moved into the top 10, plus Penn State (8-2) and Wisconsin (8-2).
Wisconsin remained at No. 7, while Penn State moved up to No. 8 from No. 10.
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“Michigan is the only team with three wins against current CFP top 10 (teams),” Hocuff said. “Those are three high-quality wins that the committee places high value in.”
There’s a chance two Big Ten teams could finish in the four-team playoff.
Hocuff said the decision will be based on each team’s resume and the selection committee “has the flexibility” to put two teams from the same conference in the final four if they believe they’re the best teams.
“However, it’s nothing we have spent any time talking about or anything that’s been on the table in front of us,” Hocuff said. “Obviously, still three weeks left in this college football season, as well as championship game weekend.”
Hocuff said when there’s a small separation between teams and the teams are comparable, then the selection committee has been instructed to apply four metrics – conference champions, strength of schedule, head-to-head matchups and comparable outcomes against common opponents – and those are not weighted in a particular order.
“It’s up to the 12 individuals that make up the college football selection committee as to what they see value in,” Hocuff said.
The Buckeyes are in a unique spot. They could win the rest of their games and not play for a conference championship and it could give them an advantage of not having to face No. 7 Wisconsin.
Alabama (10-0) remained No. 1. Clemson (9-1), ranked No. 2 last week, suffered a 43-42 loss to Pittsburgh (6-4) and is now No. 4.
Washington (9-2), which had been ranked No. 4, lost, 26-13, to Southern Cal (7-3), is now No. 6.
Colorado (8-2) moved to No. 10 from No. 12. Michigan beat Colorado, 45-28, on Sept. 17.
Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh, in response to a fan question on his weekly radio show, was asked how much he pays attention to the College Football Playoff poll.
“Well, just as long as it takes to look at it,” Harbaugh said. “You know, that’s a pretty short time. … Then back to business.”
ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit, during the halftime of the Kentucky-Michigan State men's basketball game, weighed in on what he thought the rankings should be and had OSU No. 2 and Michigan No. 5. He had Louisville No. 3 and Clemson No. 4, even though Louisville beat Clemson, 42-36, on Oct. 1.
"I have Louisville, just because I think they're a better team than these others," Herbstreit said. "Michigan hovering at No. 5. The great thing for Michigan is they still control their own destiny."
He pointed out that if Michigan beats OSU and then wins the Big Ten championship game, they will be in the four-team playoff.
"Michigan, no matter where you have them -- three, four, five, six -- if they win, they control their own destiny," Herbstreit said.
Western Michigan (10-0) remained at No. 21, but were leapfrogged by Boise State (20) for the highest spot from a Group of Five school. ESPN analyst Joey Galloway, said of WMU: "They deserve more respect."
Hocuff did explain the decision to put Boise State ahead of the Broncos.
“It was debated,” Hocuff said. “It went back and forth in our room. Western Michigan, at this point, only has one win against an FBS team that has a winning record, and that’s against a 6-4 team."
Western Michigan beat Eastern Michigan, 45-31, on Oct. 22.
"Boise State, when you look at the quality win they had over Washington State – a Washington State team that continues to improve week to week – the committee continues to place high value on that quality win and believes Boise State deserved to jump over Western Michigan into that 20 spot this week," Hocuff said.
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College Football Playoff rankings
2. Ohio State
8. Penn State
11. Oklahoma State
13. Southern Cal
14. West Virginia
17. Florida State
20. Boise State
21. Western Michigan
22. Washington State
25. Texas A&M