Michigan State upset Michigan football team could receive BCS bid for 'sitting on the couch,' but it'll likely happen
INDIANAPOLIS — The $17 million question: Will the Michigan football team make a BCS game?
The answer won't be known definitively until 8:15 p.m. Sunday, when pairings are announced on ESPN for college football's biggest postseason stage, but the Wolverines' chances received a major boost Saturday as they sat idle.
That includes Michigan State's loss against Wisconsin here at the Big Ten title game in Indianapolis. Even though the Spartans finished ahead of the Wolverines in the Legends Division, and beat them head-to-head, their loss against the Badgers gives them three on the season. Michigan has two.
Under the old Big Ten format, Michigan State would have been bound for the Rose Bowl. In the new one, it could drop to the Outback Bowl, or even the Insight Bowl.
That paves the way for Michigan — fair or not.
And, according to Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins, it's not.
"Michigan sat home tonight on the couch and watched us," the senior said shortly after the 42-39 defeat. "We played our hearts out — you saw it. I don't see how you get punished for playing and someone else gets to sit on the couch and get what they want.
"If this is the way the system is, I guess it's a broken system."
Michigan lost 28-14 against the Spartans, but now stands to benefit from the Big Ten's divisional split more than any team in the league.
In fact, it's a favorite to make the BCS because of it.
Michigan is 10-2 and 16th in the latest BCS standings. That means it needs to jump two teams to be among the top 14, which is a requirement to be eligible for an at-large bid.
The Wolverines received plenty of help to make that happen.
Their biggest boost came via Georgia's loss to LSU in the SEC championship game. The Bulldogs were ranked in the magical No. 14 slot, but now are expected to drop behind Michigan after being routed 42-10.
Then No. 10 Oklahoma was whipped by Oklahoma State, 44-10.And there was No. 6 Houston's surprising 49-28 loss against Southern Miss.
And, finally, there was Michigan State, which the Wolverines may leap in the BCS standings despite finishing behind the Spartans in the Big Ten and losing the teams' only matchup — rather handily, as well.
That didn't sit well with Michigan State.
"I feel like we deserve (a BCS bid)," Spartans receiver B.J. Cunningham said. "We earned it, we got to the championship game and we beat Michigan."
Added Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio: "I do think the two best teams in the Big Ten played today. I do think that we’re worthy and can compete at the BCS level, but you have to get the votes to do that."
There remains some uncertainty whether the Wolverines will receive those votes, although they are in a much better position to do so than the Spartans.
The biggest issue could be Baylor, which beat Texas, overtaking the Wolverines from behind. There also was a setback when No. 20 Clemson upset No. 5 Viriginia Tech in the ACC title game, which puts the Hokies in the pool of teams fighting for an at-large spot.
Still, most experts project Michigan to play in the BCS, including CBS' Jerry Palm. He predicts the Wolverines will play, of all teams, West Virginia in the Sugar Bowl.
The Sugar is the most likely BCS destination for Michigan, and the Fiesta Bowl is the next likeliest. If Oklahoma State were to sneak into the title game, then those destinations would flip, but it would not affect the Wolverines' inclusion, or non-inclusion, in the BCS.