The College Football Playoff committee is still impressed with Michigan.
Tonight's new rankings only dropped the Wolverines from No. 3 to No. 5, keeping U-M's hope alive to be one of the final four teams in the CFP when it's officially announced at noon Sunday.
Alabama remained No. 1, Ohio State No. 2, Clemson moved to No. 3 and Washington is now No. 4. Wisconsin is No. 6.
Due to the bunched rankings in the No. 3-6 spots, Michigan will be watching the conference title games this weekend as Clemson has to face Virginia Tech in the ACC title game, Washington plays Colorado in the Pac-12 title game and Penn State faces Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game. Those are the current teams the Wolverines will be measured against on Sunday.
The Wolverines entered the week ranked No. 3 in all four previous College Football Playoff rankings this season. It began when they were undefeated at 8-0 and continued even after losing to Iowa on Nov. 12 and after seeing the Wolverines play without their starting quarterback, Wilton Speight, against Indiana. At the time the committee didn't know if he would return this season, yet kept the Wolverines at No. 3.
U-M was the only top 10 team to lose last week.
Each time the CFP selection committee chairman Kirby Hocutt has said they were impressed because Michigan had the most accomplished resume with wins over Wisconsin, Penn State and Colorado, all in the current Top 10 and U-M had an impressive defense.
The positioning is relevant because it shows the faith the committee has in the Wolverines for when the final rankings are revealed on Sunday.
"We just talk about controlling the controllables, there's nothing we can do," U-M linebacker Jabrill Peppers said on the Big Ten Network tonight. "All that wishing and hoping people lose stuff is nice but also out of your hands. Our mindset is we're going to keep preparing for whoever we may play, whatever bowl game we end up in or even if we end up in the playoffs, we're going to keep preparing, keeping our bodies in top-notch shape, keeping our focus. Even though this is a tough loss, we have a chance to do something special. We're very aware of that and we're going to keep putting in the work and see how things play out."
Western Michigan (12-0) rose to No. 17 this week. If the Broncos, who have the MAC title game against Ohio on Friday at Ford Field, finish as the highest-ranked conference champion in the Group of 5, they are guaranteed a spot in a major bowl, most likely the Cotton Bowl.
Contact Mark Snyder at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @mark__snyder.
College Football Playoff rankings
2. Ohio State
7. Penn State
10. Oklahoma State
11. Southern California
12. Florida State
16. West Virginia
17. Western Michigan
23. Virginia Tech
Detroit Free Press