Michigan doesn’t play football this weekend. That also means that Michigan won’t win for the first time in 7 weeks. But don’t make plans this Saturday yet, there are still a few ways Michigan can come out of this weekend as a winner. Ohio State doesn’t play, Alabama and LSU don’t play for another week, but some of these games can improve Michigan’s Big Ten title and CFP odds.
- Northwestern defeats Wisconsin
Thanks to the Spoilermakers, we’re now at the point where it wouldn’t be arrogant for Michigan fans to start rooting for a weak team from the Big Ten West to advance to the Championship game. And the Big Ten West is wiiiiiide open. Wisconsin, Iowa, Northwestern, and Purdue have all lost only one game in conference play. Northwestern is in the driver’s seat as the only one of the four with four conference wins. They also beat Purdue in West Lafayette already and now get Wisconsin at home. Should the Wildcats (-3.5) pull off the upset, they would instantly become the favorites to win the Big Ten West. They have to go on the road to play Iowa, but they could afford to slip up in that one with a win today. Of the four teams in contention, Northwestern and Wisconsin are the two that have played Michigan, and Northwestern certainly came much closer to winning, but it would be foolish to want to play Wisconsin again at a neutral location rather than Northwestern. By all metrics that first Michigan Northwestern had no business being that close, and Michigan would be a heavy favorite if they met again, this would not be the case against Wisconsin, who might remember they have Jonathan Taylor the second time around. Root for the Cats to pull off the upset in order to set up the easiest path to a B1G Championship for the Wolverines in ages.
2. Penn State defeats Iowa
Staying in the Big Ten, Michigan has a lot to gain from this one. Penn State coming to Ann Arbor doesn’t look like it will have all the same hype it started the year with, but beating a two-loss Penn State team would still be a huge win for the Wolverines. Most importantly, it would give Michigan their third top 25 win of the season, three more than Big XII favorite Oklahoma. Should Michigan win out, their only threats to a CFP bid would be a 12-1 Oklahoma or anyone beside Alabama winning the SEC. Right now Oklahoma has a loss to top-10 Texas at a neutral site, but that’s trumped by Michigan who boasts the best loss in the country. The bigger advantage comes from the fact that Oklahoma has 0 wins versus ranked opponents. Michigan can begin to get comfortable if Penn State wins today, moves up into the top-15 of the first CFP rankings, and then adds another win against a team likely to be ranked at the end of the year. Penn State is also two games back of Michigan in the Big Ten East, so a loss would not put Michigan’s Big Ten title bid in danger. Conversely, Iowa is probably the last team Michigan wants to see come out of the Big Ten West. If they keep winning, Iowa will be a top 10 team come December 1st, and back to back wins versus Ohio State and Iowa would mean Jim Harbaugh has now beaten every Big Ten school as a coach while also adding another stop on the Revenge Tour, but Iowa regularly pulls off upsets like they did in 2016. This team is good, and their spooky factor is maxed out. A top 15-opponent in the hand is worth a top-10 opponent in the bush. Please keep Iowa far away from Indy.
3. Florida defeats Georgia
The ninth ranked Gators will meet the 7th ranked Bulldogs in Jacksonville. This is unequivocally the game of the week, and probably the SEC East Championship Game. So it belongs on this list, but neither result helps Michigan much either way. That being said, Michigan definitely wants Florida. If either of these teams win the SEC, they are making the playoffs, and possibly Alabama too. So Michigan should root for the weaker team to win. Florida is less likely to beat Alabama, and best of all, currently trails Kentucky in the SEC East. Florida winning provides the best shot at Kentucky possibly winning the SEC East. Either way, loser of this game is eliminated from playoff contention.
4. Oklahoma State, Kansas State, or Florida State winning
These teams play Texas at home, Oklahoma on the road, and Clemson at home respectively. The last two will probably lose, but S&P + actually thinks Oklahoma State is considerably better than Texas, home field advantage aside. A Clemson loss would be the most valuable, but they have 0 presently ranked teams on their schedule. At Florida State is their toughest game remaining by default. They ain’t played nobody, but they’re still really good. A loss would probably keep Clemson out if Michigan, Oklahoma, or Texas win out, and if it’s going to happen, it’s probably this weekend. Kansas State’s odds are slim, but we can hope. Any one of these teams winning is reason to celebrate.
5. The CFP Committee loves the Big Ten
The first CFP rankings come out this Tuesday. It is very unlikely Michigan is anything but 5th in the first rankings. But, the committee did surprise people ranking Georgia number 1 in their first rankings last year. The real victory for Michigan would be if the committee ranks other Big Ten teams favorably. The advantage of not ranking until more than halfway through the season is perspective. Penn State’s OT win vs Appalachian State looked ugly at the time, but is now debatably a quality win. Appalachian State just lost their first game since, on the road to a now 7-1 Georgia Southern team. The higher the Big Ten is ranked, and the lower the Big XII, the better for Michigan. Hope to see Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin, and Iowa all ranked and get excited if anyone else is. Hope that at least four of the five are top 15. I’ll forgive you if you don’t hope any of these things happen to Ohio State. Hope that only Texas, Oklahoma, and West Virginia are ranked out of the Big XII and that they are ranked low compared to the AP Poll.
image credit: https://www.indystar.com/story/news/local/2018/06/13/world-cup-2026-host-cities-indianapolis-doesnt-make-list-while-nashville-cincinnati-do/697983002/