ANN ARBOR, MI - OCTOBER 01: Blake Countess #18 of the Michigan Wolverines strips Brandon Green #1 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers of the ball during the second quarter of the game at Michigan Stadium on October 1, 2011 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
We'll get to the projections here in a second, but first I'd like to say a few words about Michigan. Yes, Michigan.
Michigan is a flawed team. No one will confuse their defense with Alabama's. No one will compare their running backs to South Carolina's. No one, in a positive manner, has compared their quarterback's arm to Stanford's. And yet, they're 5-0. As I look at their remaining seven games, there isn't a team that they can't beat. Purdue should come easy. Iowa and Northwestern do not matchup well with Denard Robinson. Ohio State has a lot of work to even get to Michigan's level. Nebraska's defense may have just shown that it's a bit vulnerable when facing a quarterback who can run and pass. Michigan State and Illinois look like good, but not great, teams.
That's it. That's their slate. They don't have to face 2002 Ohio State. They won't line up against 1995 Nebraska. They won't even see 2011 Wisconsin (unless it's in a B1G Championship Game). Now, I don't think that they're going to run the table. Again, they're a flawed team. But even with their flaws, I don't think that it's out of the question that they go 5-2 down the stretch. And if they go into Thanksgiving weekend at 9-2, they'll be playing for a BCS Bowl berth (if they're not playing for a B1G Championship Game berth). Because if the Maize and Blue CAN be selected for a big bowl, they WILL be selected for a big bowl.
As for the projections, let's remember that there are rules:
The best teams don't always go to the best games. In the end, butts in the seat and eyes to the television are the biggest factors.
The order of BCS selection is 1) Replacement for #1 Team; 2) Replacement for #2 Team; 3) Fiesta Bowl; 4) Sugar Bowl; 5) Orange Bowl.
Until a team is officially bowl banned, we assume that they can and will go. So, no USC. Ohio State, Oregon, North Carolina, Miami...you're in consideration until otherwise notified.
If a Big Ten or Pac-10 team qualifies for the BCS Championship Game, the Rose Bowl will NOT be required to take a non-automatic qualifier. This was only required of the Rose Bowl the first time (2010 season) it occurred over the current four-year contract.
The Insight Bowl picks its Big Ten team ahead of the Gator Bowl this year. It will rotate the other way next year.
Got it? Good. Let's get on to the projections.
I'm looking at LSU @ Alabama as a play-in game. The winner has an inside track to New Orleans. As for their opponent, it comes down to which red team will remain undefeated: Oklahoma, Wisconsin, or Stanford. I'm betting that the Badgers and Sooners stumble once while the Cardinal runs the table.
The Badgers look awesome right now, I'm just guessing that they drop one that they shouldn't. At Illinois? At Ohio State? Weirder things have happened...
This would be 10-2 Oregon getting the replacement bid for Stanford.
I think that Oklahoma has a loss in them. In fact, it might well be this Saturday...
10-2 Michigan, presuming that they don't win the Legends and get a 3rd loss to Wisconsin, will go to the BCS. Looking at the rest of their schedule, it's not as preposterous as you once thought.
LSU's defense is amazing. But can they move the ball on a good defense? That's what we've yet to see.
Could undefeated Boise get a BCS Championship bid over a 1 loss AQ conference champ? The better Georgia does, the more likely it is.
I don't know how to live in a world in which Clemson exceeds expectations.
West Virginia, Pitt, Cincy, USF...they're all good. None are great. Same old same old for the Big East.
I think that Nebraska finishes 10-2, but beats Michigan to get to Indy. After losing to Wisconsin a second time, the CapOne is happy to invite the Red to Orlando.
If Arkansas can stay healthy, they're the third best team in the SEC. Big if...
Illinois is 5-0 with Purdue, Indiana, and Minnesota on their schedule. That's 8 wins. A 9th gets them a trip to Tampa.
Georgia, despite losing to South Carolina, is in the best position to make it to Atlanta. The SEC East title gets them a trip to Tampa, as well.
Was Sparty's game half-full? The defense looked phenomenal. Or was it half-empty? The offense looked atrocious. That mix, with a brutal schedule still makes me see them as an 8 win team.
Like Illinois, Iowa also sees the full compliment of the bottom three. That's the only reason that they finish with 8 wins.
Just when I was wondering if things were different in South Carolina, they pull a Gamecock...
Ohio State is...I don't know. At least with Terrelle Pryor back this week, they should have a semblance of an offense. Right?
7 win Mizzou team? That sounds right.
When you have two quarterbacks, you have none. That's the tagline to the 2011 Nittany Lion team film.
June Jones can coach. If he didn't prove it in Hawaii, he's doing it now.
We'll have the Cats figured out after the next three Saturday nights. Hosting Michigan. At Iowa. Hosting Penn State. If they want to get 8 wins (and out of Detroit), they need to take 2 of 3.
Toledo is the best of the MAC - when they're not getting jobbed by officials.
When you can't get to six wins, you find yourself On the Couch with the Queso Bowl.
It is unfair that we don't get to see Minnesota and Indiana play. Don't you want to know which team is worse? I feel like Purdue is still a cut above the other two, although I don't know that there is evidence supporting that.
And now on to the rest...with some quick notes.
Shocker, but Vandy has a legitimate route to 6 wins and Birmingham.
I think that OSU finishes 10-2. Defense has to matter at some point, right?
If Brantley is out for the season, this bowl may be optimistic for Florida.
Army goes here with six wins.
Houston wins C-USA.
That's Maryland, in case you haven't seen that ugly helmet before.
BYU goes here with 6 wins.
If Notre Dame finishes with 7-9 wins, we'll see them here as the Big East representative. If they run the table and get to 10, you better believe that they'll get brought up to a BCS bid.
Navy will go here with 6 wins.
That crash was the USF bandwagon - right on schedule.
Utah State may play the worst 2 minute defense in the history of college football. But, I think they can get to six wins...
Nevada fills in when the Pac-12 can't fill its slot.
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