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Thursday Morning Brews: Under a blue moon

Michigan was left out of the CFP Rankings this week. Should the Wolverines have been included?

NCAA Football: Minnesota at Michigan Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Thursday, folks. Welcome to Morning Brews. This morning I set forth the case for not including Michigan in the CFP Rankings this week. Even though Michigan fans are with the team through the thick and thin, the committee isn’t - and I point out why I think they left the Wolverines out of the second edition of their poll. We also have a feature on game against Maryland this weekend, plus a reminder that both Men’s and Women’s basketball is right around the corner.

As usual, there is a song referenced in this morning’s Brews. There are at least two clues. Clues may be words, phrases, or photos, and may be things like lyrics, the artist, or the album. When you put all the clues together, you should be able to guess the song. Fire away down in the comments with your guesses.

Let’s get to it:

NCAA Football: Michigan at Penn State Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

The case against Michigan being ranked by the CFP Committee

I’m going to do something this morning. I’m going to be a bit of a contrarian. As you no doubt know by now, Michigan was left out of the CFP’s second week of rankings - despite climbing to No. 22 in the Coaches Poll and reentering the AP Poll at No. 21 after the 33-10 victory over Minnesota. For many Michigan fans, seeing the Wolverines left out was as confusing as the ending of Donnie Darko.

I’m going to assume that you’ve read one or more of the takes out there about why Michigan should have been included in the CFP rankings. This morning I’m going to lay out the case for not including Michigan in this week’s CFP rankings. Not because it’s a theory I subscribe to, but because I think it’s important for people to be able to read a cogent argument for the Wolverines not being included.

So what’s at the heart of Michigan being left out of the CFP rankings? A lack of quality wins and bad primetime losses. Let’s tackle quality wins first. Michigan currently stands at 7-2. Looks pretty good, right? Well, the seven teams Michigan has beaten are a combined 25-37. None of them have a winning record. Michigan’s win on the road against Purdue? They’ve lost to Rutgers and Nebraska since. The early season marquee matchup against Florida? They’re 3-5 and fired their coach two weeks ago.

What has the committee seen? The Wolverines play poorly in two primetime nationally televised games. First, the game against Michigan State. Despite out gaining the Spartans by 50 yards, the offense looked uninspired and lost a bad game. The five turnovers certainly didn’t help to dispel the idea that Michigan is an extremely young team prone to mistakes. The Penn State game, in which Michigan was out gained on offense by a 2:1 margin, likely reinforced the perception that this is a down season for Michigan.

Quite simply, to get the benefit of the doubt this time of year you need to have quality wins, or at least an absence of losses. Wisconsin is ranked at No. 8, but doesn’t have a win over a ranked team and only has two wins against teams over .500 (Northwestern and FAU). The difference is they haven’t lost. If they do lose during what’s left of the regular season, whether it be to Iowa, Michigan, or Minnesota, expect them to drop like a stone in the rankings.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some... interesting inclusions and positions in this week’s CFP rankings. For instance, LSU’s only win against a team over .500 is Auburn—and they have that bad loss at home to Troy—but they’re in at No. 24. Auburn, who has only two wins against teams over .500 (5-4 Texas A&M and 7-2 Mississippi State) is all the way up at No. 10. Others have pointed out that Washington is ranked at No. 9, but doesn’t have a win over a P5 team that’s over .500.

What I’m saying about Michigan is that the Wolverines don’t have much to hang their hat on. They’ve lost to the quality teams on their schedule, and the team hasn’t looked good doing it. Like Harbaugh alluded to after the Penn State game, Michigan will have to earn everything for the remainder of the year. They won’t get the benefit of the doubt, however they do have the opportunity to earn national notoriety. These last three games will decide whether Michigan plays their bowl game around New Year's (Outback Bowl or Citrus Bowl) or shortly after Christmas (Holiday Bowl), and winning all three—or even two of three—will cause the committee to take notice.


Do you think Michigan should be included in the CFP rankings if the Wolverines beat Maryland?

This poll is closed

  • 24%
    Absolutely. They should have been included this week
    (115 votes)
  • 27%
    Yes. Three wins in a row should be enough for the committee
    (129 votes)
  • 45%
    No. A quality win is needed first
    (211 votes)
  • 1%
    Other (comment)
    (7 votes)
462 votes total Vote Now

We’ve brought you plenty of coverage this week about Khaleke Hudson’s special game against Minnesota, recapped in its entirety by Drew’s Inside the Numbers column. Hudson finished with 15 tackles, 8.0 tackles for loss, three sacks, and a forced fumble. Hudson’s performance not only set a Michigan TFL record, but also set a Big Ten TFL record and tied the NCAA TFL record. It earned him Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honors, and it has now earned him Nagurski Defensive Player of the Week honors. Hudson will also be added to the Bronko Nagurski Defensive Player of the Year award watch list. The Nagurski finalists will be announced next Wednesday.

Here’s a pretty cool, feel-good story. Saturday’s game at Maryland will bring together two players on the field who have a long history off the field. Melvin Keihn plays for Maryland and Henry Poggi plays FB for Michigan. Keihn was born in Monrovia, Liberia and, as a child, he fled the country with his father. At the time, Liberia was in the midst of a nearly decade-long civil war that would claim up to 250,000 lives by some estimates. In the US, Keihn played football and ended up at the Gilman School in Baltimore - a prestigious private institution where Poggi played and his father Biff coached. Because Keihn’s father lived far from Gilman, Keihn lived with the Poggis and became a de facto member of their family. For more on this story, check out the feature linked above.

Men’s and Women’s basketball begin their seasons this week, and they’ll both be starting with new banners going up into the rafters at the Crisler Center. The women will be hanging their WNIT Championship banner, the culmination of the program’s best season in history. The Wolverines open their season against George Mason on Friday. The men will be hanging their B1G Tournament Championship banner, earned after struggling through the early conference schedule and the team’s near miss at Willow Run Airport. The Wolverines open their season against North Florida on Saturday.