Sunday, November 20, 2011
Michigan should make BCS numbers work
By Brian Bennett
The latest BCS standings are out, and while there's nearly mass chaos in the national title race, the numbers really only mean one thing to one team in the Big Ten.
Michigan State is the league's highest-ranked team at No. 14, but the Spartans are either going to the Rose Bowl by winning the Big Ten championship game Dec. 3 or they won't be going to the BCS. Same goes for either No. 16 Wisconsin or No. 19 Penn State, who will fill out the other spot in Indianapolis depending on who wins this weekend in Madison. The Big Ten championship game loser will have three losses on the season and won't have a chance at an at-large bid because they will almost certainly not finish in the Top 14.
So the BCS numbers right now really matter to Michigan. At 9-2 with no worries of a loss in the Big Ten title game, the Wolverines have a good chance at securing an at-large BCS bid if they can beat Ohio State this week. The only problem is, Brady Hoke's team has to get into the Top 14 to qualify, and they're not there, yet. But they should be soon.
Michigan is No. 16 in both the USA Today coaches' and Harris polls, but it ranks 15th in the computer rankings. That equals a No. 15 ranking in the BCS standings, just one spot short of qualification. And with a win this week and some other teams invariably losing, the Wolverines should easily make the cut.
Then it will come down to whether the bowls want Michigan or some other at-large teams that are higher in the BCS standings, like Stanford or one of the Big 12 teams. But the Maize and Blue would have the benefit of a strong finish -- with three straight wins, including one over rival Ohio State -- and a fan base that is hungry to return to the big stage and would likely fill any BCS city's hotel rooms and restaurants. Michigan is also a brand name that will bring attention to any bowl.
Nebraska would have been in a similar position, but the Huskers lost 45-17 to Michigan in Ann Arbor on Saturday and have dropped to No. 21. So it still looks like Michigan or bust for the Big Ten's chances at an at-large bid.
First, though, the Wolverines have to beat Ohio State.