ANN ARBOR, Mich. — All Michigan can hope for now is a sympathetic selection committee.
Clemson’s 42-35 win against Virginia Tech in Saturday’s Atlantic Coast Conference championship game likely eliminated Michigan from contention to be among the nation’s top four-ranked teams in the College Football Playoff. Michigan needed a win by the Hokies to help its case to be among the top four.
The final College Football Playoff rankings will be released at 12:30 p.m. (ET) Sunday. The top four teams advance to the CFP Semifinals Dec. 31 in Glendale, Ariz., and Atlanta. The New Year’s Six bowls (Orange Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Sugar Bowl and Rose Bowl) will be announced close to 2:30 p.m. (ET) Sunday.
Michigan appears headed to the Orange Bowl unless the selection committee decides to take both Ohio State and Penn State for the playoffs. If that happens, Michigan could wind up in the Rose Bowl.
Clemson is No. 3, Washington is No. 4 and Michigan is No. 5 in the College Football Playoff rankings released Tuesday night.
Earlier this week, CFP selection committee chair Kirby Hocutt said the margin between No. 4 Washington and No. 5 Michigan was “razor-thin,” but Hocutt on Saturday told ESPN there is a “close separation” between Michigan and the other top-10 teams behind it. If Penn State makes the playoffs, then Michigan and Washington would likely be paired in Pasadena.
Michigan has a win against Big Ten champion Penn State, which beat Wisconsin 38-31 Saturday in Indianapolis for the conference title, but another factor works against Michigan: Of the CFP’s top ten teams, only two have losses to unranked teams: No. 5 Michigan (Iowa) and No. 10 Oklahoma State (Central Michigan, Baylor).
One of Michigan’s defensive ends had a suggestion for Saturday’s slate:
@Chase_Winovich I think I was a little too optimistic on this one
— Chase Winovich (@Chase_Winovich) December 3, 2016
It didn’t work out that way.
And as far as the Big Ten title game went?
The big ten has a championship game ?
— Jourdan Lewis (@JourdanJD) December 4, 2016
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