For those of you who believe the current College Football Playoff system is a travesty.
At the height of the rivalry’s 10-Year War, Ohio and Michigan played to a 10-10 tie in 1973. The Big Ten commissioner and athletic directors met the next day via a conference call and declared the Buckeyes as the conferences Rose Bowl representative. A mitigating factors supposedly was a season-ending injury to Michigan’s quarterback. In those days no one outside of the Big Ten champ went to ANY bowl game.
In 2016 Michigan and THE played double-overtime, and the Buckeyes prevailed in a controversial 30-27 decision that eliminates the Wolverines from College Football Playoff consideration.
Or did it?
The ESPN website known as fivethirtyeight.com has Michigan’s chances as slim and none, their metrics places UM at two percent, behind Wisconsin (34 percent), Penn State, Colorado, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. According to the site, Wisconsin’s chances improve to 81 percent with a win over Penn State along with a Washington loss to Colorado.
This is the same outlet that actually gave Donald Trump a 28.6 percent chance on election night, which was much more than the Washington Post and other publications gave the now President-elect.
The just released AP rankings have Michigan’s chances as better than Wisconsin. The Wolverines received 1264 votes, just 34 votes behind Washington and 27 ahead of the Badgers.
This time Michigan’s fate will lie with 13 members who make up the College Football Playoff committee. As things stand now, their decision may prove as controversial as Ohio State’s fourth down measurement.
For purposes of this exercise, assume top-ranked Alabama, No. 3 Clemson and possible No. 4 Washington win their conference title games. No. 6 Wisconsin and No. 7 Penn State will meet in Indianapolis for the Big Ten trophy, but in reality is considered a third-place game. No. 8 Oklahoma and No. 10 Oklahoma State also meet in the Big XII regular season finale.
Assume Alabama and Ohio State as in, along with Clemson. That leaves the remaining candidates for No. 4
- 12-1 Washington, Pac-12 Champion.
- 11-2 Wisconsin or Penn State, Big Ten Champion
- 10-2 Oklahoma or Oklahoma State
- 10-2 Michigan
The instant classic in Columbus allows Michigan to remain in contention. Ohio State won handily at Oklahoma early in the season, Michigan and Ohio State both beat Wisconsin and Michigan blew out a Penn State team that THE somehow lost to.
Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez is part of the CPF committee, but just one of 13 members, he likely will not be able to help Wisconsin’s cause. Former Washington coach Tyrone Willingham also serves on the committee, he was fired after a 0-11 season in 2008.
That leaves possible 12-1 Washington as the fly in the ointment. If the committee did opt to bypass the Huskies, it will not be U-Dub’s first screwjob (see 1984). If the Huskies lose to Colorado in the Pac-12 championship, then Michigan’s inclusion becomes less controversial. Ditto if Clemson manages to lose to Virginia Tech.
If Washington made the CFP ranked No. 4, only to be annihilated by Alabama (very possible), the committee would be open to endless criticism.
Not only could Michigan make the playoff, the Wolverines could even be elevated to No. 3. That would lead to a rematch of Ohio State and Mich-AGAIN in one semifinal along with Alabama/Clemson in a rematch of last year’s thrilling national title game.
ESPN and most fans outside of Seattle, Madison or State College would not complain about those two pairings.