Michigan makes a move, MSU tumbles in College Football Playoff rankings

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Michigan's perception as a well-balanced, complete team as assessed by the College Football Playoff committee, has moved the Wolverines up another spot in the rankings.

On the cusp of its showdown with Ohio State on Saturday at Michigan Stadium for the Big Ten East Division crown, the Wolverines (10-1) rose a spot to fifth in the rankings, which determine the four national playoff participants. Ohio State (10-1) also moved ahead of Alabama this week to No. 2 after the Buckeyes' 56-7 defeat of Michigan State, which was ranked seventh in the CFP last week.

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh.

Georgia (11-0) remains at No. 1, Alabama (10-1) is third and Cincinnati (11-0) is fourth.

"It certainly gets your attention when they’re up 49-0 at half, they had three receivers over 100 yards for the game, and (quarterback) C.J. Stroud played great again," selection committee chair Gary Barta said of Ohio State during a conference call with reporters Tuesday night. 

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Michigan State (9-2) fell to No. 12.

The Wolverines are coming off back-to-back road wins against Penn State and Maryland. They won 21-17 at Penn State, coming back after a strip sack led to a Nittany Lions' field goal and lead. The Wolverines scored the winning touchdown with 3:29 left. They defeated Maryland last Saturday, 59-18.

"The win at Penn State has gotten the committee’s attention," Barta said. "Michigan has also been a well-balanced team pretty much all year, so it’s been a consistency for most of the year."

The Buckeyes, winners of the last four Big Ten championships, have dominated the Wolverines the last two decades and have won eight straight in the rivalry entering Saturday's game. 

"We talked, especially the last several weeks, about just them being a complete football team. They’re well-balanced," Barta said. "Their offense and defense are both ranked in top 10 nationally in most categories. Their best win to date is at Wisconsin (14th in the CFP). They also had a good win at Penn State.

"Very good football team, well-balanced and looking forward to watching Ohio State and Michigan play this weekend."

Cincinnati's move into the CFP top four marks the first time in eight years of the playoff that a Group of Five team has reached such heights. The Bearcats are one of three undefeated FBS teams. 

The selection committee's final rankings will be released on Dec. 5.

achengelis@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @chengelis