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Michigan hopes to contend for the 2018 Big Ten East Division championship, which would open the door for the Wolverines to contend for a College Football Playoff berth.

If Michigan wants to make College Football Playoff in 2018, it should do this …

Rachel Lenzi

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If Michigan wants to be in serious contention for the College Football Playoff National Championship, it has to win the Big Ten title. This is the most definite way to be a national title contender.

In theory.

Yes, Michigan could make it by winning all but one game and not winning the Big Ten East Division. Consider how the last two College Football Playoffs unfolded. Of the 16 teams that have made the College Football Playoff since its inception in 2014, only two didn’t win their respective conference titles: Ohio State in 2016 and Alabama in 2017.

Alabama won the most recent College Football Playoff championship … and didn’t even win its division. Georgia won the SEC Championship and Alabama got in, in part because it had only one loss on its record.

Alabama received what I call the “Ohio State exemption.” The Buckeyes made the 2016 College Football Playoff with only one loss and the Big Ten East co-championship, while Penn State got shipped to the Rose Bowl despite winning the Big Ten title. And Penn State beat Ohio State that season.

Funny things happen in college football, don’t they?

Somehow, if Michigan goes undefeated or has only one “quality” loss on its resume — and there are several other programs that could fall into that category — it could make the committee’s debate and decisions that much more difficult.

It’s all prognostication right now. But the best bet for the Wolverines, as @KoLamar4643 suggests, is to do it the most straightforward way: Win.

Win the Big Ten East Division. That opens the door for Michigan to play for the Big Ten championship.

Win the Big Ten championship, and that should be a straightforward qualifier for a College Football Playoff berth.

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