Michigan football team on precipice of BCS eligibility, but still needs help
It didn't take long for the talk to shift to BCS scenarios after the Michigan football team's win against Ohio State last weekend.
The BCS, though, says not so fast.
Although the Wolverines are an attractive team for BCS venues — in fact, probably the most attractive of any non-SEC at-large contender — they are not yet eligible to receive a bid after dropping from 15th to 16th in the latest BCS standings that were released late Sunday.
Teams must be among the top 14 to qualify for a BCS at-large bid, which will be doled out after next week's conference championships. The final standings will be compiled Sunday and the bowl pairings are expected to be released at 8:15 p.m.
Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com
"I think this team is now very much in the national hunt, and we'll see how the BCS standings come out," athletic director Dave Brandon said Saturday.
Senior defensive lineman Mike Martin was a little more forthcoming, tweeting on Sunday afternoon "#BCS #BCS #BCS." Several players retweeted the refrain.
The Wolverines do not play next weekend, but several teams ranked ahead of them do.
In fact, two of the three teams directly in front of them in the standings — No. 15 Wisconsin (10-2) and No. 13 Michigan State (10-2) — play each other in next week's Big Ten championship game. The Wolverines are expected to pass the loser of that game.
That means Michigan needs one other team to lose in front of it, and it's in (provided it's not caught from behind by a team such as Baylor, which closes with Texas).
The best shot at that happening is No. 14 Georgia (10-2), which plays top-ranked LSU (12-0) in the SEC championship game. The Bulldogs will be a heavy underdog.
If they were to win, the SEC could nab three BCS spots, which would be terminal to the Wolverines' at-large aspirations.
No. 10 Oklahoma (9-2) also plays next weekend, taking on No. 3 Oklahoma State (10-1) in its season finale. A loss by either team could help Michigan, as the Sooners would have three losses, and the Cowboys would have concluded their season with back-to-back upsets.
Most favorable for Michigan, though, would be for Oklahoma to lose. A third loss would push the Sooners out of contention for BCS consideration.
Wolverines coach Brady Hoke said last week he thinks the Big Ten deserves a second BCS bid. On Saturday, he would not say the Wolverines should get that bid, even though they're the league's best-positioned team to receive it.
“I don’t have that decision," Hoke said. "I think we have a good football team. Somebody will make that decision.”
Michigan will not play for a Big Ten title, falling short of Hoke's goal for the season. The caveat, though, is it does not have to face Wisconsin in a 13th game, as Michigan State does, and the prospects of a third loss.
Either the Badgers or Spartans will have a third defeat, meaning the Wolverines are assured to jump the loser in the BCS hierarchy and receive the conference's second-best bowl bid.
The divisional split, then, has been kind to the Wolverines this year. Without it, they would be headed to the Outback Bowl, or perhaps the Capital One Bowl.
Now, their worst-case scenario is the Capital One Bowl, the Big Ten's second bowl tie-in.