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CFP committee chair defends Wolverines ranked ahead of Spartans

Maybe head-to-head results don't matter after all...

The second edition of the College Football Playoff committee’s Top 25 rankings mostly went according to expectations, with one massive exception.

Inexplicably, the committee chose to rank No. 6 Michigan ahead of No. 7 Michigan State, despite the Spartans’ 37-33 victory in East Lansing two weeks ago.

That decision flew in the face of everything the committee set up in its initial rankings one week ago, which consistently gave winners in head-to-head situations the nod over the losers.

But for some incomprehensible reason, that no longer mattered when it came to the Spartans and the Wolverines.

ESPN’s panel of Rece Davis, David Pollack, Joey Galloway and Kirk Herbstreit were at odds over the rankings of Michigan and Michigan State, with Davis and Pollack supporting the Spartans’ argument while Galloway went to bat for the Wolverines.

After several minutes of debate, Davis invited College Football Playoff committee chairman Gary Barta on the show to explain the decision to rank Michigan ahead of Michigan State.

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“The arguments were going on in the room, just like I’m listening to you guys go back and forth,” Barta said. “A week ago, it was discussed that Michigan might be the more complete team – offensively, defensively, every statistic Michigan’s ahead of Michigan State. But the committee certainly gave Michigan State the nod, they were undefeated, they beat Michigan head-to-head.”

It sounds like the committee was just looking for an excuse to rank the Wolverines ahead of Michigan State, and the Spartans’ loss to Purdue this past weekend was all they needed to completely change their stance on head-to-head.

“What’s different a week later? Michigan won. Michigan State lost,” Barta said. “The discussion in the room went back and forth, very similar to what you’re doing now, but at the end of the day, we felt as a committee that Michigan was a better team and [should] be ranked ahead this week.”

Davis asked Barta how close the vote was between the Wolverines and the Spartans.

“There’s no tally that’s shown across the room,” the chairman said. “I can just tell you that the debate on this topic lasted a long time. This pairing alone probably took up about a half hour or maybe even longer.”

When Davis noted that many could be unhappy with the result of the rankings, particularly the “Go Green” side of the state of Michigan, Barta seemed unphased.

“Stay tuned,” he said. “We get to watch again this week.”