The College Football Playoff Committee surprised many earlier this month when they ranked Michigan No. 6 ahead of Michigan State at No. 7 despite the Wolverines one loss being against the Spartans.
CFP Chairman Gary Barta said then that the committee felt Michigan was the more complete team. This turned out to be accurate down the stretch — Michigan State lost to Ohio State 56-7 and finished the season 10-2, Michigan Beat Ohio State 42-7, and finished their regular season at 11-1.
Michigan is now ranked No. 2 in the latest College Football Playoff Rankings.
The Wolverines convincing and often dominating win against the Buckeyes on Saturday wasn’t a surprise to the committee — they haven’t wavered in their belief that Michigan is a good team on offense, defense, and special teams.
“The committee has been calling, referring to Michigan as a complete team now for about three or four weeks as we were watching the team,” Barta said. “And I just think about what the defense was able to do. (Aidan) Hutchinson (3 sacks), but not just him, but he had an incredible performance; they were able to put pressure on Ohio State’s offense and really contain an incredibly explosive offense, both passing and running.”
Barta and the committee’s appreciation of Michigan extends to what running back Hassan Haskins and the o-line were able to do against Ohio State — run the ball down their throat. Michigan rushed for 297 yards in the win — Haskins had 169 yards and 5 touchdowns. Michigan averaged 9.2 yards per carry in the second half.
“For Haskins to do what he did and they were able to run the ball in kind of difficult conditions, I would just tell you the committee was not surprised at the way Michigan played — maybe, like everybody, a little surprised at the way the score ended up. But just a complete team. And that’s how the committee’s felt about Michigan now for quite a while,” Barta said.
The stage, the spectacle that was a loud and snowy Michigan Stadium during the game, that didn’t go unnoticed either.
“They showed it in a championship environment,” Barta said. “I talked about with Oklahoma, Oklahoma State. That was a playoff game. This was certainly a playoff game. And under that kind of environment, Michigan showed that they were able to find a way to win and win convincingly against a really, really good, a great Ohio State team.”
The win keeps Michigan’s College Football Playoff hopes alive, but to keep them going they’ll have to beat the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Big Ten Championship on Saturday night in Indianapolis.