Despite an impressive résumé, Michigan may need a minor miracle to make it into the playoff. By not playing in the Big Ten championship game, the Wolverines likely have to hope that Alabama (SEC), Clemson (ACC) or Washington (Pac-12) lose in their respective conference championship games. With potential losses by the Tide or Tigers not guaranteeing they will miss out on a playoff spot, Michigan could find itself rooting for Colorado (No. 8) to upend the Huskies for the Pac-12 title as the Wolverines also have a head-to-head win over the Buffaloes this season.
Kirby Hocutt, chairman of the College Football Playoff committee, said the difference between Washington and Michigan is "very, very small," while implying the Huskies' strength of schedule works against them in a résumé comparison with the Wolverines.
The final CFP rankings will be released Sunday at noon ET on ESPN.
Though Ohio State seems to be comfortably locked into the No. 2 spot, like Michigan, the Buckeyes are not playing in the Big Ten title game. That game will feature Wisconsin and Penn State, which are ranked sixth and seventh, respectively, followed by Colorado, which moved up a spot into eighth.
Hocutt said Ohio State and Penn State "are not close" to each other, though the Nittany Lions beat the Buckeyes earlier this season and are playing in Saturday's conference championship game while Ohio State sits at home.
At No. 14, Auburn is the second-highest ranked SEC team as it is one spot ahead of No. 15 Florida, even though the Tigers lost to the Tide in the Iron Bowl last week while the Gators will be playing in the SEC championship game this coming weekend. The SEC foes are followed by West Virginia at No. 16.
Unbeaten Western Michigan is the best of the Group of 5 schools, earning a No. 17 ranking as Boise State lost over the weekend to fall out of both the top 25 and the chase for a spot in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic. The only other ranked Group of 5 schools are Navy (No. 19) and Houston (No. 24). The Broncos will play Ohio on Friday for the MAC title, while the Mids will host Temple in the AAC championship game.