ANN ARBOR, Mich. — In the week after Michigan’s 14-13 loss at Iowa on a last-second field goal, the Wolverines were adamant about one thing:
They’re not going to fold out of panic or desperation.
However, Michigan acknowledges that its path to the Big Ten’s East Division championship, the Big Ten Conference title game and a potential berth in the College Football Playoff got a little tougher. But also a little more straightforward.
“The message is to keep going,” Michigan defensive lineman Chris Wormley said. “We have two games left in the regular season and all of our goals are still there. Everything we want to accomplish is still there.”
No. 3 Michigan (9-1, 6-1 Big Ten Conference) hosts Indiana (5-5, 3-4) at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday, and Michigan needs to win. Even if it is without quarterback Wilton Speight, though Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said Thursday morning on Detroit’s WXYT-FM that Speight is “day-to-day” and disputed reports that Speight is out for the regular season with a broken collarbone.
If Speight (injured left shoulder) isn’t available this weekend, Harbaugh said Monday that John O’Korn would be the likely starting quarterback, with Shane Morris as his backup.
Michigan isn’t out of the race at all but will have to win its final two games to remain in contention.
If Michigan wins Saturday against Indiana and Nov. 26 at Ohio State, it will win the Big Ten East and earn a berth in the Big Ten title game Dec. 3 in Indianapolis.
However, if Ohio State and Penn State win out (including a Buckeyes win against Michigan), Penn State wins the Big Ten East and earns the Big Ten title game berth. Penn State upset Ohio State 24-21 on Oct. 22 in State College, Pa, and Ohio State needs Penn State to lose either to Rutgers or Michigan State in the next two weeks.
- Michigan’s final two games:
Saturday vs. Indiana
Nov. 26 at Ohio State
- Penn State’s final two games:
Saturday at Rutgers
Nov. 26 vs. Michigan State
- Ohio State’s final two games:
Saturday at Michigan State
Nov. 26 vs. Ohio State
“I can’t remember if (Harbaugh) mentioned it, but it’s something that we all understand as a team,” Michigan tight end Jake Butt said. “We’ve talked about it. Guys on the team have talked about it, and there’s really only one scenario. We’ve got to win out. It’s as simple as that. We win out, we handle business and then we’re right where we want to be.
“We’re not focusing on who’s winning what game, or who we need to win. All that matters is that we win.”
If Michigan doesn’t make it into the top four teams in the CFP rankings or into the Big Ten title game, it could go to the Rose Bowl, the Orange Bowl or even the Outback Bowl. Bowl berths will be announced Dec. 4 and hinge upon the outcome of both the Big Ten conference championship and the College Football Playoff rankings.
The Rose Bowl will likely take the runner-up in the Big Ten title game — if it isn’t among the College Football Playoff’s final top four teams. An outside chance remains that the CFP could take two teams from the same conference, as Landof10’s Corey Masisak mapped out earlier this week.
The Rose Bowl takes the Big Ten’s top team if the conference has one team in the College Football Playoff.
The Orange Bowl or the Citrus Bowl takes the second-highest team after the Rose Bowl team. Michigan played in the Citrus Bowl last season; the Big Ten and the Citrus Bowl have an agreement that it will host five different teams in six years, which rules out the Wolverines from returning to Orlando.
The Outback Bowl could also take Michigan, if it goes 0-2 in its final two games.
This week’s bowl projections for Michigan
|Sporting News||Rose Bowl|
|College Football News||Orange Bowl|
|ESPN||Orange Bowl or Rose Bowl|
|USA Today Sports||Orange Bowl|
|Fox Sports||Orange Bowl|
|Sports Illustrated||Rose Bowl|
Michigan’s grand plan to go undefeated ended Saturday at Iowa. However, it now has a goal to win its final two games of the regular season — a path that could open more postseason doors.
“Our identity as a team is going to be shown (when), what happens when we get punched in the face,” Butt said. “We got punched in the face. This was a tough loss. How are we going to respond?
“This is really where you’re going to see a team shine or crumble. And I think we’re going to shine this week.”