Michigan on the outside looking in as four Big Ten teams fight for the CFP

Dr. Saturday

Michigan’s loss to Ohio State created a little bit of shakeup in the College Football Playoff rankings ahead of this weekend’s conference championship games.

The Wolverines, which were ranked No. 3 in the CFP, dropped to No. 5 and find themselves needing some help to get back into the top four. Alabama remained No. 1, the Buckeyes No. 2, Clemson No. 3 and Washington moved up a spot for No. 4.

Alabama, Clemson and Washington all play in conference championships this weekend. Ohio State will not play in its championship thanks to a loss to Penn State earlier in the year. The No. 7 Nittany Lions will be the East Division representative against No. 6 Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game on Saturday. However, Ohio State already has asserted that it still should make the playoff despite not playing on championship weekend. The Buckeyes are one of just five teams with one or fewer losses in the Top 25. However, no non-conference champion has ever played in the CFP.

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Ohio State defeated Michigan last week to stake its claim as the No. 2 team in the College Football Playoff. (Getty)
Ohio State defeated Michigan last week to stake its claim as the No. 2 team in the College Football Playoff. (Getty)

So from these rankings, it looks like Alabama and Ohio State are locks. Even if Alabama loses to Florida in the SEC title game, it will only have one loss and still be worthy of a playoff spot. Ohio State, as noted above, doesn’t play, so doesn’t have a chance to lose. Clemson will stay at No. 3 if it beat Virginia Tech in the ACC title game and Washington plays No. 8 Colorado for the Pac-12 title.

So let’s have a little chaos, shall we?

If Clemson and/or Washington lose, the Big Ten stands to get at least one other team into the CFP. The question is whether that team will be Michigan or the winner of the Big Ten title game. Michigan has lost two of its last three while Wisconsin has won its last six and Penn State has won its last eight.

Should Colorado beat Washington, it also would have a case to move into the top four because it would have beaten the highest ranked team of all the teams in CFP contention. However, one could argue that its loss to Michigan early in the season would prevent the Buffaloes from jumping the Wolverines.

Further down, No. 9 Oklahoma and No. 10 Oklahoma State play a defacto Big 12 championship game this weekend, but neither team appears to be in striking distance for a spot in the CFP. There are just too many quality teams ahead of them.

Other interesting notes out of this week’s rankings:

  • No. 12 Florida State is ahead of No. 13 Louisville, which means if Clemson wins the ACC title game, the Seminoles would play in the Orange Bowl as the ACC representative.

  • No. 17 Western Michigan is the highest ranked Group of Five team, which puts it in the lead for a New Year’s Six Bowl berth (Cotton Bowl) with a win against Ohio in the Mid-American Conference title game. However, Navy is at No. 19 and could make things interesting with a win against Temple in the AAC title game. The Midshipmen also have a game against Army next week. If they win that, the CFP committee would get on an emergency call to determine whether WMU or Navy would be the Group of Five representative.

Here is the College Football Playoff rankings for Week 14 in their entirety:

Week 14 College Football Playoff rankings.
Week 14 College Football Playoff rankings.

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Graham Watson is the editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at dr.saturday@ymail.com or follow her on Twitter!

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