ANN ARBOR, Mich. – It’s Rutgers week, and Rutgers week is for dreaming.
After three straight games against ranked opponents, the Wolverines will play a heavily overmatched team this weekend. Anything can happen in college football, but as long as the Wolverines take care of business, fans can turn their attention to the rest of college football.
Rutgers is dreaming of a miracle against Michigan. Meanwhile, Michigan fans will be hoping for miracles around the country.
Many people, myself included, believe Michigan controls its own destiny in terms of the College Football Playoff.
At No. 4 in the rankings, Michigan would have to be jumped by another one-loss team to fall out of the playoff, and if it finishes with 12 straight wins, a Big Ten championship and victories over Ohio State, Michigan State, Penn State and Wisconsin, that’s unlikely.
Some experts believe that if Georgia wins out and beats Alabama in the SEC title game, both teams would get in at 12-1, leaving Michigan out. Others think Oklahoma would jump Michigan as a 12-1 Big 12 champion.
Again, both of those scenarios seem unlikely, but hey, why not dream up a scenario that removes all doubt? Here’s a look at what would be a perfect weekend of college football for the Wolverines.
Michigan routs Rutgers
First of all, Michigan has to take care of its own business. No, Rutgers doesn’t appear to stand much of a chance, but college football can be wacky sometimes, so Michigan needs to take this seriously.
It’s also not good enough to win in a close game. The Wolverines are favored by more than five touchdowns, so they need to continue to accrue style points for the CFP committee.
A team that beat Penn State by 35, Michigan State by 14 and Wisconsin by 25 the last three games should be able to roll past Rutgers.
Michigan State beats Ohio State
As the only undefeated team in the Big Ten, Michigan just has to win its three remaining games to lock up the Big Ten East Division. It also needs to win out to preserve its playoff hopes, no matter what happens around the country.
But consider this an insurance policy in case Michigan drops another game to Ohio State in Columbus. As of now, the Wolverines would be slight favorites against their archrival, but the Buckeyes have a ridiculous amount of talent on the roster and could explode at any moment.
If that happens in two weeks, Michigan is in trouble, but if Michigan State takes down Ohio State, Michigan would at least win the division.
Ohio State is one game behind Michigan in the conference standings, and a second loss to Michigan State would put the Wolverines up by two games with two weeks to go.
That means Michigan could clinch its first East Division title with wins over Rutgers and Indiana. That could also take some pressure off the Wolverines heading into the Horseshoe.
Besides, doesn’t any Michigan football dream scenario include an Ohio State loss?
Mississippi State beats Alabama
I know — not gonna happen!
Mississippi State already has three loses, so it doesn’t matter how if it wins out, it still wouldn’t get to the playoff. This would also erase any chance of Alabama making the playoff over Michigan with a loss to Georgia.
Maybe Nick Saban will oversleep? Or Tua Tagovailoa might miss the team bus? Yeah, Alabama would still probably survive. This team in dominant.
Auburn beats Georgia
This is another very unlikely scenario, but this is a dream, remember?
The Tigers are having a typical Auburn rebuilding year, hanging around the fringe of the rankings, but losing to the SEC’s top competition. It would be a massive upset if the Tigers go on the road and beat No. 5 Georgia.
That would be great for Michigan, though. Georgia is breathing down Michigan’s neck at No. 5 in the rankings, and this would eliminate the possible scenario in which both Alabama and Georgia get in at 12-1.
The Bulldogs have already clinched the SEC East Division, but a second loss would make the conference title game much less important to the playoff picture, and much less stressful for Michigan.
Oklahoma State beats Oklahoma
If it wasn’t for superstar quarterback Kyler Murray, Michigan wouldn’t have to worry about Oklahoma, because the resumes aren’t close to comparable.
The Sooners lost to three-loss Texas earlier in the year and haven’t been dominant against mid-level competition.
Army, Iowa State and Texas Tech are very good teams, but Oklahoma beat them by an average of 7.3 points. Michigan beat Wisconsin, Michigan State and Penn State — a much stronger trio — by an average of 24.6 points.
Still, Murray and the Sooners offense have eclipsed 50 points in three straight games, and that wow factor helps them in the eye test.
A 12-1 Oklahoma team would have two wins over West Virginia in addition to its already solid resume. But a loss to in-state rival Oklahoma State would remove that chance.
Boston College beats Clemson
Boston College is a pretty good team, but it doesn’t seem likely that it will knock out Clemson, which is the second-most feared team in the nation behind Alabama.
Clemson has a stranglehold on the No. 2 spot, and this is the last chance for that to change. Its last three games will be against Duke and South Carolina at home, and then an ACC title game against a bad Coastal Division winner.
That can only change if Boston College pulls an upset.
A loss would likely drop Clemson below Michigan, not only providing some security in the playoff but also allowing Michigan to avoid a potential semifinal matchup against Alabama.
An extra chance to avoid playing Alabama and still play for the title? Yeah, I think anybody would sign up for that.
Florida State beats Notre Dame
A Notre Dame loss would make the opener look a little worse for Michigan, but it would be well worth the risk because the Wolverines would likely move up a spot.
A loss at 11-1 Notre Dame in the first week of the season would still be justifiable for Michigan, and compares favorably to the losses of Georgia, Oklahoma, West Virginia and Washington State.
A Notre Dame loss would also decrease the chances of an additional Power Five conference champion being left out of the playoff.
Star quarterback Ian Book isn’t playing for the Fighting Irish, but it will still be an uphill battle for Florida State, which is a surprising 4-5 on the year.
Northwestern beats Iowa
This would simply be a nice resume bump for Michigan, which beat Northwestern early in the season and might get a rematch in the conference title game.
The Wildcats are 5-4, but have some impressive wins and control their own destiny in the Big Ten West Division. A win on the road against a ranked Iowa team would likely put Northwestern in the Top 25, while a loss would rob Michigan of one of its wins against teams with a winning record.
This game is flying under the radar, but it’s actually very important to Michigan’s resume.
TCU beats West Virginia
Michigan would have to lose to get jumped by West Virginia, but to remove any doubt and possibly rob Oklahoma of a chance for a top 10 win, it would be a positive for TCU to pull a shocking upset.
Colorado beats Washington State
The Pac-12 is up against it in terms of the College Football Playoff, but a Washington State loss would officially remove all doubt.
Maryland beats Indiana
Maryland, like Northwestern, is in danger of falling to 5-5 on the season and taking away another of Michigan’s valuable wins over teams with winning records.
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