ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan is at No. 3 in the initial College Football Playoff rankings released Tuesday night.
The Wolverines are ranked No. 2 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll and in the USA Today Amway Coaches Poll, but the College Football Playoff is the most quantifiable poll and determines the four teams who will qualify for the College Football Playoff semifinals on Dec. 31 in Atlanta and Glendale, Ariz. Alabama is No. 1, Clemson is No. 2 and Texas A&M is No. 4.
The winners advance to the national championship game Jan. 9 in Tampa.
The rankings will be released each Tuesday night through Nov. 29, and the final rankings will be released at noon Dec. 4.
Michigan, 8-0 and 5-0 in the Big Ten Conference, hosts Maryland (5-3, 2-3) at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Michigan Stadium. Michigan has wins this season against three CFP-ranked teams: No. 15 Colorado, No. 12 Penn State and No. 8 Wisconsin.
No. 3➡️Michigan pic.twitter.com/VvF9YY5XZq
— CFBPlayoff (@CFBPlayoff) November 1, 2016
While rankings and polls carry weight within Michigan’s program, the Wolverines weren’t getting too high on the first release of the CFP rankings. In fact, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said earlier Tuesday that he didn’t have time to watch Tuesday’s rankings show.
“It’s kind of in the back of your mind, but we understand in these last four games you’ve got to take it week by week,” linebacker Ben Gedeon said. “You don’t want to look ahead to anything. We’re at the ‘grind’ part of the season. Everyone’s kind of beat up, but we’ve got to finish. The saying is, ‘They only remember what you do in November.’ ”
Michigan wide receiver Amara Darboh didn’t even realize the initial CFP rankings would be released Tuesday until a Michigan staff member told him. But, like Gedeon, he was tempered.
“It doesn’t matter until the end of the season,” Darboh said. “Whatever the rankings that come out now, it could change, because we still have four more games left. It’s fun to be a part of it, but I don’t think we need to let that cloud our judgment about the way we’ve been playing. We have to stay focused.”
During a conference call Monday, ESPN analysts projected Michigan at No. 3 in the initial rankings, behind No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Clemson, and ahead of No. 4 Washington. All of the top four teams in ESPN’s projections are undefeated, which would appear to make the projections cut-and-dried.
Strength of schedule, though, is a valuable variable in the committee’s determination of its rankings. However, ESPN college football analyst Joey Galloway gave weight to Michigan’s wins against Colorado and Wisconsin, two teams that are currently ranked in the Associated Press Top 25. Michigan defeated No. 21 Colorado, 45-28, on Sept. 17, and defeated No. 8 Wisconsin, 14-7, on Oct. 1.