Where will Michigan football land in College Football Playoff rankings tonight?
Wolverines ranked No. 2 in AP, Coaches polls
The season is nine weeks old, and the rankings that matter are finally about to be released.
The College Football Playoff selection committee will release its first rankings nationally at 7 p.m. Tuesday, setting the tone for the final third of the regular season.
Only five undefeated teams remain in the country, four of which are expected to make up the coveted top four spots in the rankings. Alabama, Michigan, Clemson and Washington are the final undefeated Power 5 teams, each hailing from a different conference.
Where will Michigan land? The Wolverines have three wins over teams ranked in the AP and Coaches polls -- a 45-28 win over Colorado, a 49-10 win over Penn State and a 14-7 win over Wisconsin. Michigan also turned heads with its dominance in wins over Hawaii, UCF and Rutgers.
In the AP and Coaches polls, Michigan has climbed as high as No. 2 in the country after starting the season in the top 10.
The Wolverines are not expected to be ranked ahead of Alabama, which is 8-0 with dominant wins over Arkansas, Tennessee and Texas A&M following last year's national championship. Michigan should be ranked ahead of Washington, which only has one win over a ranked team.
That leaves Clemson, which has a very similar resume to Michigan's.
Clemson and Michigan both have three wins over ranked teams and one win over a Top 10 team. They're both 8-0 and have the inside track to winning their perspective conferences.
So who should be No. 2?
Michigan's best argument is the sheer dominance it has had over both ranked and unranked teams. The Wolverines beat No. 20 Penn State by 39 points and No. 21 Colorado by 17 points. Against unranked teams, Michigan has a 60-point win over Hawaii, a 37-point win over UCF, a 78-point win over Rutgers and a 33-point win over Illinois.
While Michigan has been completely dominant in six of its eight games, Clemson has had five games decided by one possession. The Tigers would have lost to N.C. State at home if not for a missed chip-shot field goal at the end of regulation. Clemson also struggled to survive Troy earlier in the season.
Clemson's calling card is its strong wins away from home. While Michigan has only played Rutgers and Michigan State on the road, Clemson has wins at No. 11 Auburn and No. 19 Florida State. Even though Auburn and FSU are only 11-5 combined, they're both considered top-20 teams.
Clemson also has arguably the best win in the country -- a 42-36 victory over Louisville, the top-ranked team with a loss in the nation.
Michigan's best win is over two-loss Wisconsin, and the Wolverines struggled against 2-6 Michigan State this week.
CHECK: Big Ten power rankings
By the end of the season, it won't really matter which team is No. 2 and which team is No. 3, because they'll duke it out on the field. But as the clock ticks toward the final rankings -- which will determine which four teams compete for a national championship -- each week's announcement will give us an idea about how the committee views the college football landscape.
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