Michigan football up to No. 2 in next-to-last College Football Playoff ranking

And then there was one — one team ahead of Michigan football in the College Football Playoff rankings and one week left before the final decision.

Michigan (12-0, 9-0 Big Ten) moved up to No. 2 in the new rankings released Tuesday after dismantling the previous No. 2 Ohio State, 45-23, in Columbus on Saturday. The Wolverines outscored the Buckeyes, 28-3, in the second half of the game and scored five touchdowns from 45 yards or further in the most-watched college football game since 2011.

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No. 1 Georgia (12-0, 9-0 SEC), No. 3 TCU (12-0, 9-0 Big 12) and No. 4 USC (11-1, 8-1 Pac 12) are the other three teams currently positioned to make the playoff with only conference championship weekend remaining. The semifinal matchups will be announced on Sunday afternoon.

Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) celebrates his touchdown against Ohio State with wide receiver Roman Wilson (14) during the second half at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022.
Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) celebrates his touchdown against Ohio State with wide receiver Roman Wilson (14) during the second half at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022.

No. 5 Ohio State (11-1), No. 6 Alabama (10-2), No. 7 Tennessee (10-2), No. 8 Penn State (10-2), No. 9 Clemson (10-2) and No. 10 Kansas State (9-3) round out the top 10.

Last weekend's victory against the Buckeyes was monumental for many reasons.

Not only because it was the program's first in the rivalry on the road since 2000, not because it marked Michigan's first 12-0 start to a season since it finished the 1997 national championship season with that record. The win also locked in the Wolverines' second consecutive trip to the Big Ten championship game.

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The Wolverines will face Purdue (8-4, 6-3 Big Ten) for the conference title on Saturday night in Indianapolis.

But the win over Ohio State was so convincing and with so many teams having lost critical (or multiple) games, Michigan appears to be a lock for its second straight College Football Playoff appearance. The teams immediately outside of the top four are Alabama (with two losses) and OSU (who Michigan just beat).

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh on the sidelines during action against Penn State on Oct. 15, 2022 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor.
Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh on the sidelines during action against Penn State on Oct. 15, 2022 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor.

Michigan opened the initial CFP rankings at No. 5 despite looking dominant while running through the first two months of the season unbeaten. College Football Playoff selection committee chair Boo Corrigan said the non-conference slate was a concern, but now Michigan is the only team in the country with two wins against teams who are currently ranked in the top 10.

Michigan had been ranked No. 3 for the past three weeks.

Contact Tony Garcia at apgarcia@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter at @realtonygarcia.

Next up: Boilermakers

Matchup: No. 3 Michigan (12-0, 9-0 Big Ten) vs. Purdue (8-4, 6-3), Big Ten championship game.

Kickoff: 8 p.m. Saturday; Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis.

TV/radio: Fox; WXYT-FM (97.1), WTKA-AM (1050).

At stake: A U-M win would almost certainly lock up the Wolverines’ second straight berth in the College Football Playoff, with the four-team field to be announced Sunday.

College Football Playoff rankings

  1. Georgia (12-0)

  2. Michigan (12-0)

  3. Texas Christian (12-0)

  4. Southern Cal (11-1)

  5. Ohio State (11-1)

  6. Alabama (10-2)

  7. Tennessee (10-2)

  8. Penn State (10-2)

  9. Clemson (10-2)

  10. Kansas State (9-3)

  11. Utah (9-3)

  12. Washington (10-2)

  13. Florida State (9-3)

  14. LSU (9-3)

  15. Oregon State (9-3)

  16. Oregon (9-3)

  17. UCLA (9-3)

  18. Tulane (10-2)

  19. South Carolina (8-4)

  20. Texas (8-4)

  21. Notre Dame (8-4)

  22. Central Florida (9-3)

  23. North Carolina (9-3)

  24. Mississippi State (8-4)

  25. North Carolina State (8-4)

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan football No. 2 in College Football Playoff rankings; Ohio State