Michigan is one of three one-loss teams in the top six of the first College Football Playoff rankings, released Tuesday night.
The Wolverines (7-1 overall, 5-0 Big Ten) are No. 5. Alabama (8-0) is at No. 1 followed by Clemson (8-0), LSU (7-1), Notre Dame (8-0), Michigan and Georgia (7-1).
During a conference call, CFP selection committee chair Rob Mullens quickly pointed out that LSU is ranked No. 3 because it has six victories over teams with winning records. Alabama plays LSU on Saturday.
The top four teams after the conference championship games will make up the playoff field.
Michigan has never made the College Football Playoff since it began in 2014. The Wolverines, who lead the Big Ten East Division, host Penn State at 3:45 p.m. Saturday in a key division game.
Mullens referenced Michigan’s only loss of the season, at Notre Dame in the season opener, while discussing the Wolverines during the conference call.
“Michigan has a very strong resume,” Mullens said. “Their only loss is to a No. 4-ranked team on the road in the first game of the year. (They have) five wins against teams with a winning record, strong road wins, Michigan State and Northwestern. Great on defense. Michigan is a very, very good team.”
New CFP rankings will be released for the next four Tuesdays until the final rankings are revealed on Sunday, Dec. 2. The top four teams in the final rankings will play in the Dec. 29 national semifinal games — the Orange Bowl and the Cotton Bowl.
The national championship game is Monday, Jan. 7.
Michigan players said earlier this week they are not paying attention to rankings right now. The Wolverines were in the early CFP mix in 2016 before a late-season nosedive took them out of the running.
“This year it’s just one game at a time because the only thing that really matters is the next game and then after that, the next game that you play is even more important than the past,” defensive tackle Carlo Kemp said Monday. “We’re at a point right now, four games left, where every game matters.
“Two years ago we were in this position, so we know how it feels to be at the top and be in control. Right now we have that grip and right now we’re trying not let it go.”
College Football Playoff rankings
1. Alabama (8-0)
2. Clemson (8-0)
3. LSU (7-1)
4. Notre Dame (8-0)
5. Michigan (7-1)
6. Georgia (7-1)
7. Oklahoma (7-1)
8. Washington State (7-1)
9. Kentucky (7-1)
10. Ohio State (7-1)
11. Florida (6-2)
12. UCF (7-0)
13. West Virginia (6-1)
14. Penn State (6-2)
15. Utah (6-2)
16. Iowa (6-2)
17. Texas (6-2)
18. Mississippi State (5-3)
19. Syracuse (6-2)
20. Texas A&M (5-3)
21. N.C. State (5-2)
22. Boston College (6-2)
23. Fresno State (7-1)
24. Iowa State (4-3)
25. Virginia (6-2)