Long before the season started, I had one goal on my mind for this team. GET BACK TO THE POST SEASON! Bowl games are important to a program for several reasons that I will not go into here, and looking at this team over the summer, 6-8 wins seemed like a good goal.
Well, here we are halfway through the season and the team sits at 4-2, a record I think no one would have been too surprised about in July. We have 6 games left, and we need to win 2 of them to become bowl eligible and 3 to guarantee ourselves a 13th game.
All of this got me thinking about the importance of getting to that 7th win. So I decided to look up the rules on the matter and this is what I found:
From the NCAA rules:
18.104.22.168 Exceptions - 12 Game Season. During each year in which an institution is permitted to participate in 12 regular-season football games, an institution with a record of six wins and six losses may be selected for participation in a bowl game if that institution is a member of a conference with which the bowl organization has a contractual affiliation, and there is no other team in that conference qualified for selection per Bylaw 30.9.2. If the conference with which the bowl is affiliated has no other institution that is qualified for selection or a team with a 6-6 record, the bowl may invite a team with a 6-6 regular-season record from another conference with which it does not have an affiliation only if there is no other team with a 7-5 record available in the Division I FBS. Additionally, a bowl game without a conference affiliation may invite any team with a record of six wins and six losses if there is no team with a 7-5 record available in the Division I FBS. During a season in which an institution competes in 13 regular season contests, the institution must establish a record of seven wins, six losses or better to qualify for bowl selection.
According to my count, the Big Ten has contracts with 7 bowl games. This means that if Michigan gets to 6 wins they will make a bowl game as long as there is not 7 other teams with 7 wins OR another team with 6 wins that is a bigger draw than Michigan (the latter is not likely considering they would be going up against the likes of Northwestern, Minnesota, MSU, etc).
Things look even better if you consider that the Big Ten has sent two teams to the BCS fairly often in recent years. If that were to happen (with the Big Ten Champ going to the Rose Bowl and a team like Iowa, OSU, etc also making the BCS), the Big Ten would send 8 teams bowling making Michigan a virtual lock if they can get to 6 wins. And lets not forget that even if Michigan can't fit into a Big Ten contract bowl game, they can still be chosen as an "at large" with 6 wins as long as there aren't anymore 7 win teams.
Bottom line is that Michigan can make this post completely moot if they win 7 games (which like, please God let that happen), but even if they can only beat one other team outside of Delaware State, things look good for us to go bowling. I know 6 wins would probably be a disappointment to most of us. But as long as we came out and won the bowl game, I could live with it. Afterall, look at the change in perception that Notre Dame got after beating a terrible Hawaii team last year.