Michigan football team strengthens BCS case in latest USA Today poll; experts are thinking Sugar
The suspense builds.
The Michigan football team will not learn its BCS fate until 8:15 tonight (ESPN), but an important part of the equation was released this afternoon — and it boded well for the Wolverines' chances of climbing from No. 16 into the all-important top 14.
Michigan is ranked No. 12 in the latest USA Today poll, up four spots from last week's perch at No. 16. The ranking is factored into the BCS formula, whereas the AP Top 25 (where Michigan is No. 13) is not.
As importantly, the Wolverines are ranked ahead of several key teams that could bounce them from the top 14. That includes Michigan State (No. 13), Baylor (16) Houston (17) and Oklahoma (19).
Each of those teams, besides Baylor, was ahead of Michigan in the previous poll, as well as the BCS. Baylor is important because it beat Texas on Saturday, and some projected the Bears to pass Michigan in the polls.
That should help the Wolverines climb into the top 14 of the BCS, a requirement for teams to be eligible for at-large bids. Wisconsin, by virtue of its win against Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game on Saturday night, will receive the league's automatic bid to the Rose Bowl.
The Spartans blasted Michigan's role in this BCS scenario — wherein they picked up a third loss for playing in the title game, and the Wolverines sneak into a top bowl after being idle — but it appears to be on the verge of happening.
That's reflected in national projections for Michigan's bowl destination, which firmly puts the Wolverines in the Sugar Bowl. They include:
CBS' Jerry Palm: Sugar Bowl against Kansas State
Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel: Sugar Bowl against Kansas State
ESPN: Sugar Bowl against TCU
Yahoo! Sports: Sugar Bowl against Kansas State
ESPN's Big Ten Blog: Sugar Bowl against TBA