Buckeyes hold firm at No. 2 in CFP

Michigan at No. 5 in penultimate ranking

The Associated Press

Ohio State held firm at second in the College Football Playoff rankings, putting the Buckeyes in position to become the first team to be selected to the final four without winning its conference.

The second-to-last rankings were released Tuesday and Alabama was No. 1, followed by Ohio State, Clemson and Washington. The Crimson Tide, Tigers and Huskies all play conference championship games this weekend and presumably would be in good shape to make the playoff if they win. The final rankings and playoff pairings will be released Sunday.

Unbeaten Alabama is probably in good shape to make the playoff even if it loses to Florida in the Southeastern Conference title game Saturday.

Michigan dropped to fifth after losing to Ohio State. Wisconsin was sixth and Penn State was seventh. The Badgers and Nittany Lions will play for the Big Ten title in Indianapolis on Saturday.

Assuming the idle Buckeyes are a lock and Clemson doesn’t get upset by Virginia Tech in the ACC title game, the debate for the committee when it gathers in Texas will be Pac-12 or Big Ten.

Can Michigan, or maybe the Big Ten champion with two losses, edge a Washington team that would finish 12-1 by beating Colorado on Friday in the Pac-12 title game?

“There is a small separation between these two teams,” selection committee chairman Kirby Hocutt said of Michigan and Washington. At one point Hocutt added that the difference between the Wolverines and Huskies was “razor thin.”

Michigan at 10-2 has victories against both Penn State and Wisconsin.