With the second College Football Playoff rankings officially out and Michigan now inside the Top 4, is there a chance the Wolverines could leap unbeaten Notre Dame — despite a head-to-head loss — if they win out?
Eight consecutive wins on the “revenge tour” for Jim Harbaugh’s team has impressed the selection committee according to Playoff chair Rob Mullens.
“When you look at those teams, Michigan had a very impressive win on Saturday, that’s two consecutive wins, the best defense in the country and Shea Patterson continuing to improve,” Mullens said during Tuesday night’s reveal on ESPN. “At the same time, Notre Dame has had that steady defense and you’re seeing some growth with Ian Book at quarterback. At the end of the day through 10 weeks, you still have that head-to-head (win) so the committee thought Notre Dame at 3 and Michigan at 4 was appropriate this week.”
— College Football Playoff (@CFBPlayoff) November 7, 2018
Since a three-point win at Northwestern on Oct. 6, the Wolverines have won four straight by double digits including blowout wins over then-ranked Wisconsin, Michigan State and Penn State. Michigan yielded three total touchdowns defensively in those contests.
Listening to Mullens, you get the sense there’s a chance Michigan could be ranked higher than Notre Dame in the final rankings next month if the Wolverines win out and finish 12-1 with a Big Ten Championship. Notre Dame doesn’t have an opportunity to seize a conference title feather, thought the Irish do have another ranked win they could add to the resume against Syracuse in two weeks.
According to ESPN’s Football Power Index, Michigan has a 45.5 percent chance to win out.
“Do not underestimate this Michigan team,” Kirk Herbstreit said. “Their defense is legit. And now they’re offense is championship-caliber as well. I have no issue with Michigan sitting up there above Georgia.
“I personally, with Michigan’s resume’ and they way they’re playing, if they win in Columbus, I can not see Michigan not getting in. Michigan controls its own destiny (even if Georgia beats Alabama). Michigan is not being left out.”
Joey Galloway said he is extremely impressed with the Wolverines and compared Michigan’s defense to the level of play at Alabama right now. But he balked at the idea Michigan would be ranked ahead of Notre Dame should both teams win out.
“It’s not happening with that head-to-head win,” Galloway said. “The head-to-head is going to matter at the end.”
“(You mean the one) back in June,” he said. “Michigan controls its own destiny.”
David Pollack believes Mullens’ remarks were telling.
“Rob speaks for everybody (on that committee) and it’s a hard job, but he said definitively that Michigan has the best defense in the country,” Pollack said. “And he’s right.”