Tuesday night, the College Football Playoff committee released its first poll of the year. The Michigan football team found itself at No. 5, one slot below its ranking in the AP poll.
Of course, the No. 5 ranking doesn’t mean much yet. Last year, the Wolverines started on the outside looking in from the seventh overall spot. But after running the table, including a win over then-No. 2 Ohio State and a Big Ten Championship, Michigan went into bowl season ranked No. 2 having earned its first ever College Football Playoff berth.
The Wolverines have already bested Penn State, ranked No. 15 in the initial poll, but have two ranked tests to circle in their remaining four games. Michigan will take on No. 16 Illinois on Nov. 19 before heading to Columbus to battle with No. 2 Ohio State in The Game.
The Wolverines’ result in those final two games of the regular season will be the determining factor for whether they break into that premier top-four and reach the College Football Playoff for the second straight season, or slip on the outside, missing out on their goals.
Because, as Michigan learned last year, the initial Nov. 1 rankings don’t matter much beyond a bout of confidence. The ones that do come in December.