The Wolverine

January 2017

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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14 THE WOLVERINE JANUARY 2017   INSIDE MICHIGAN ATHLETICS The College Football Playoff consists of No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Clemson, No. 3 Ohio State and No. 4 Washington. The Crimson Tide, Tigers and Huskies all won their respective conferences, while Ohio State did not. The Buckeyes' lone loss came to Big Ten champion Penn State — a team that No. 6 Michigan drilled by 39 points. It's hard to argue with the résumés of the four teams that got in, but when you watch Michigan's on-field performances it's easy to question whether or not the committee got it right. Wolverines Can't Claim Top Four By Leland Mitchinson Losing two of its final three games did a lot to keep Michi- gan out of the final four teams in the College Football Play- off rankings, and there isn't much evidence to dispute a No. 6 finish to the season. The Wolverines finished the regular season 10-2, but had no quality road wins on their résumé and the team's only win outside of the state of Michigan came against Rutgers, which finished with the worst record (2-10) in the Big Ten. Michigan's final ranking reflects exactly where it should have finished in the college football picture. The Wolver- ines finished behind four conference champions and Ohio State, which beat Michigan in the final game of the regular season. Michigan may have had a claim had Washington lost to Colorado in the Pac-12 championship game, since Michigan defeated Colorado earlier in the year. However, the Huskies won that game 41-10, closing that avenue for the Wolverines. In year two under Jim Harbaugh, sixth in the country is nothing to scoff at and is where the Wolverines deserve to be based on their body of work. Michigan Is One Of The Best Four Teams By Brandon Brown The Wolverines finished the regular season 10-2, giving them at least one more loss than each team in the playoff — but both losses came on the road and totaled a combined deficit of just four points. Losing to No. 3 Ohio State, in Colum- bus, by three, in double overtime is about as close to a huge road win as you can get. Granted Michigan's loss to Iowa was unexpected and un- fortunate, but Clemson was in a very similar situation earlier in the season against North Carolina State. The difference — Iowa's kicker made the chip-shot game-winner and North Carolina State's did not. And the latter was at Clemson. The bottom line is that Michigan likely stands the best chance to actually compete on the field against Alabama. Right now, pundits and experts are basically handing the tro- phy to Nick Saban and the Tide with everyone else battling for consolation prizes. Michigan's defense would be the toughest for Alabama to face and not many people seem to argue that. The Wolverines give up just 12.5 points per game and only 252.7 yards per game; both efforts are good for second na- tionally behind only Alabama. Ohio State comes in at third in scoring and fifth in total defense, giving up just 14.2 points and 282.3 yards per contest. Clemson and Washington are very close to one another with 313.9 and 316.2 yards per game allowed, respectively, good for ninth and 10th. On the scoreboard, the Huskies surrender 17.2 points per game, tied for No. 8 in the nation, while Clemson gives up 18.4, ranking them 12th. Record and résumé-wise, U-M is probably where it needs to be. But if you want the four best teams, a quarter of the playoff should be maize and blue. POINT ❙ COUNTERPOINT SHOULD MICHIGAN HAVE MADE THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF? The Wolverines lost by one point on a last-second field goal at Iowa and by three in double overtime at Ohio State. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN

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