Because of wins over Penn State and Notre Dame.
And when the rankings were released Tuesday night, that is exactly what happened.
“With several 8-0 teams, the committee debated it all,” CFP committee chair Boo Corrigan told reporters on a teleconference after the rankings were released. “Ohio State was ranked No. 1, due in part to their big wins against Penn State and at Notre Dame. Georgia No. 2 is an excellent team and they keep winning decisively. Michigan was ranked 3. The committee was impressed at how they’ve dominated their opponents. Florida State was ranked 4 with their win against LSU helping make their case.”
The Nittany Lions are No. 11 in the first rankings while the Fighting Irish are No. 15 and LSU is 14th.
Neither Georgia nor Michigan has played an opponent in this week’s top 25, though the Bulldogs play No. 12 Missouri on Saturday and still have games on the schedule against No. 10 Mississippi and No. 17 Tennessee after that.
The Wolverines will get their chance to build their resume with a game at Penn State on Nov. 11 and their annual clash with Ohio State on Nov. 25.
Corrigan said the committee was impressed with Ohio State’s “top five” defense and play-making of Marvin Harrison Jr. on offense.
He also said the knowledge the Buckeyes have played multiple games without injured running back TreVeyon Henderson — who returned last week — and receiver Emeka Egbuka was factored into the OSU offense being less high-scoring than previous editions.
(Georgia got the same consideration for throttling Florida without star tight end Brock Bowers last week, too.)
“It certainly is a factor,” Corrigan said. “We look at all conditions around games and make sure that we have the latest information, whether that’s coming from the conference, as we talk to the conferences. But again, we still viewed Ohio State as the top team in the country based on their wins, based on their defense, and again, their offense is doing well enough to win games and be 8-0.”
Michigan has the top scoring differential in the country, but the Wolverines are also dealing with reports they have benefited from an advance-scouting scheme that would violate NCAA rules if proven to exist.
Because those allegations have not been substantiated, Corrigan indicated they were not considered at all by the committee, which counts Michigan director of athletics Warde Manuel as a member.
“Michigan has played well all season,” Corrigan said. “The fact of the matter is no one knows what happened. We’re dealing right now — the NCAA is dealing right now with allegations only. The committee makes its judgments based on what happened on the field, and clearly Michigan has been a dominant team.”
Manuel, like any member of the committee with a direct connection to a school in consideration for the postseason, is recused when the Wolverines are discussed.
“A recused member shall not participate in any votes involving the team from which the individual is recused,” according to the official published policy of the CFP. “A recused member is permitted to answer only factual questions about the institution from which the member is recused but shall not be present during any deliberations regarding that team’s selection or ranking. Recused members shall not participate in discussions regarding the placement of the recused team into a bowl game.”
The other members of the committee this year are Chet Gladchuck (Navy athletics director), Gene Taylor (Kansas State A.D.), Mitch Barnhart (Kentucky A.D.), Jim Grobe (former coach at Ohio, Baylor and Wake Forest), David Sayler (Miami University A.D.), Chris Ault (former coach at Nevada), Kelly Whiteside (sportswriter), Will Shields (former offensive lineman, Nebraska) and Jennifer Cohen (Washington A.D.).
Corrigan is the athletics director at North Carolina State.
Rankings will be released every Tuesday through the end of the regular season with the final rankings set to be released Dec. 3.
This season the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl are set to host semifinal games on Jan. 1.
The National Championship Game will be played Jan. 8 in NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas.