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Michigan football’s playoff forecast is starting to crystalize

After some debate over which College Football Playoff semifinal Michigan might head to, the Wolverines’ postseason forecast is beginning to come into focus.

The fourth-ranked Wolverines, assuming they win out and claim a Big Ten championship, are headed for the Cotton Bowl to play Alabama, says every major bowl prognosticator.

The latest round of bowl projections came out over the weekend, and each one of them — ESPN, CBS Sports, Sports Illustrated and Sporting News — has Michigan in the top four, playing Dec. 29 in Arlington, Texas, against the defending national champions.

We’ll start with ESPN, where its two writers that project the bowl slate were in some disagreement last week over Michigan’s destination. Kyle Bonagura had Michigan heading to the Cotton Bowl, while Mitch Sherman thought Michigan might end up in the Orange Bowl.

Both are now in agreement that Michigan, as the No. 4 seed, will play in Texas.

Michigan stands pat at No. 4 in this week’s AP, coaches polls

Over at CBS Sports, Jerry Palm also has Michigan seeded fourth and playing the Crimson Tide, with Clemson as the No. 2 playing No. 3 Notre Dame.

It is important to point out that Michigan (9-1, 7-0 Big Ten) is the only non-unbeaten team projected to crack the playoff at this point, with all three teams ahead of them in the College Football Playoff rankings sitting with an unblemished record.

Notre Dame (10-0) beat Michigan on Sept. 1, the season opener for both teams.

Eric Single of Sports Illustrated has the same two playoff semi-final pairings, with Michigan playing Alabama in the Cotton Bowl. 

And while Sporting News’ Bill Bender had not published his bowl projections at the time of this writing, he did do his weekly playoff picture. Michigan is in at No. 4, writing: “The Wolverines took care of business on the road. The home finale against Indiana offers a chance for Jim Harbaugh to clinch his third 10-win season with the Wolverines.”

Michigan will need three more wins — over Indiana on Saturday (4 p.m., FS1), on the road at Ohio State on Nov. 24, and in the Big Ten championship game — to present its best resume to the playoff committee. 

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