The Michigan Dilemma

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The College Football Playoff (CFP) selection committee has stated time and time again that their number one goal in selecting the four teams that will get into this season’s CFP is to make sure that the teams that they select are the best four teams in the country.

The Michigan Wolverines are clearly one of the best four teams in the country. However, because they tripped up against the Iowa Hawkeyes on the road and lost “The Game” on the road against the #2 Ohio State Buckeyes, they have dropped outside of the top 4 in the rankings.

Before they lost at Iowa, Michigan was the #3 team in the nation. After they lost at Iowa, they were still the #3 team in the nation. Now all of a sudden a 30-27 double overtime loss at #2 Ohio State makes them not a top 3 team? That makes no sense, especially seeing as how equally talented the Wolverines and the Buckeyes looked, even in Columbus, where Ohio State had homefield advantage. Not only that, but the fact that there were a number of controversial calls that benefited Ohio State, particularly “The Spot” on Ohio State quarterback JT Barrett’s fourth down conversion to stay alive in double overtime, should keep the Wolverines from no longer being considered a top 4 team in the nation.

Now, Michigan sits with a 10-2 record and is not even in the Big Ten Conference championship game. No non-Power Five conference champion has ever made it into the CFP before, and no two-loss team has ever done so either, much less a two-loss non-Power Five conference champion. However, given that Ohio State will likely make it into the CFP despite not even being in the Big Ten Conference championship, that should open the door for Michigan.

Among the five Power Five conference championships, there are a total of three teams that can become conference champions with an 11-2 record, which would be half a game ahead of Michigan, with the extra victory being the championship game win. Those teams are the Wisconsin Badgers of the Big Ten Conference, the Pennsylvania State Nittany Lions out of the Big Ten Conference, and the Colorado Buffaloes out of the Pacific 12 Conference.

Michigan beat all three of those teams. And they didn’t just beat them. They beat them soundly. They hammered them. They held the Badgers to seven points. They drubbed the Nittany Lions by 39 points. They rallied from down by two touchdowns to beat the Buffaloes by three possessions.

Tell me why any of these two-loss teams should be ranked ahead of the two-loss Wolverines and get into the CFP over them just because of the fact that they may will an extra game. Is there any good reason?

How will the committee end up evaluating Michigan come selection day on Sunday, December 4th, 2016? FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver only gives Michigan a 2% chance of making it into the CFP, but take that with a grain of salt; after all, he did predict a Hillary Clinton Presidential election victory by a wide margin. However, if the committee REALLY wants the four best teams in the nation to be in the CFP, the discussion surrounding Michigan potentially getting in should be far from over, and they should not be counted out just yet.

 

-Asher Fair

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