Breaking down Michigan's chances of sneaking into BCS eligibility
ANN ARBOR -- Michigan still has a shot, however long, at playing for a Big Ten title.
And, believe it or not, it still has a shot -- even longer -- of becoming eligible to play in a BCS game.
The Wolverines are 8-3 overall and 6-1 in Big Ten play heading into Saturday's regular-season finale against Ohio State (11-0, 7-0). And certainly, their hopes of realizing either scenario hinge on upsetting the fourth-ranked Buckeyes.
If they do that, they could have options.
Each of which is out of Michigan's control. But options are better than none at all.
The Big Ten race is simple: The Wolverines need Nebraska to be upset by Iowa for a chance to play in the title game. That game will be played at noon Friday, so Michigan will know well before kickoff whether this chip is on the table against Ohio State.
The BCS scenario is a bit more complicated.
Michigan is 19th in the latest BCS rankings, and needs to ascend into the top 14 to be eligible as an at-large selection. That means (sorry to insult your intelligence here) they need to pass five teams.
Sounds like a long shot. And it is.
But as it turns out, all but one of the seven teams directly ahead of Michigan will face a ranked opponent before the end of the regular season. The exception, Nebraska, would also have to beat Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game, assuming it doesn't first lose Friday.
Texas, ranked 16th in the BCS, already lost Thursday to TCU, 20-13, providing Michigan its first bit of help.
A look at those seven teams (again, Michigan must pass five):
No. 12 South Carolina (9-2): at No. 11 Clemson (10-1)
No. 13 Oklahoma (9-2): vs. No. 21 Oklahoma State (7-3), at TCU (6-4)
No. 14 Nebraska (9-2): at Iowa (4-7), possible Big Ten title game
No. 15 Oregon State (8-2): vs No. 5 Oregon (10-1), vs Nicholls St
No. 16 Texas (8-2): lost 20-13 to TCU on Thursday, at No. 6 Kansas State (10-1)
No. 17 UCLA (9-2): vs No. 8 Stanford (9-2), Pac-12 title game
No. 18 Rutgers (9-1): at Pitt (4-6), vs No. 20 Louisville (9-1)
Michigan would pass Texas, and perhaps more, simply by beating the undefeated Buckeyes. But it also must root for losses from several teams -- and although a lot has to happen to climb into the top 14, the chance is there considering the difficult schedules remaining around the country.
If Michigan doesn't sneak into eligibility, it likely will play in the Capital One Bowl or Outback Bowl.
If the Wolverines do sneak into eligibility, they have a better shot than most of being selected for a BCS berth due to their large following and history of traveling well. They always are a blue chip when it comes to bowl selections, and can beat out teams with better resumes because of it.
All of that is moot, of course, if Michigan can't handle business Saturday against Ohio State. And it hasn't won in Columbus since 2000, so that is no easy task.
But that's the one thing left in the Wolverines' control. The rest is blowing in the wind.
A week after No. 1 Kansas State and No. 2 Oregon lost, though, it's clear whacky things do happen.
Michigan is hoping for the whacky.