First let me start off by saying that if we win out, it does not matter what anybody else does. We will have beaten likely Top 5 Ohio State and likely Top 10 Wisconsin. We will be no worse than #2.
Even if we have one loss but still win the Big Ten, we are also in. For the same reason Ohio State will be in if they win out.
But can a one-loss, non-Big Ten champion Michigan make the CFP?
That road has actually gotten easier and more clearer, but certain specific things need to happen:
1) The fourth slot needs to open up by having two two-loss P5 conference champions out of the five conferences. Despite the committee's window dressing in early November, a one loss P5 conference champion is getting in over any one-loss non-conference champion not named Alabama. Root for Oklahoma over WVU in the Big 12, and Wash State or the Pac12 South winner over Washington.
2) Our one loss needs to be a close loss against Ohio State, and Ohio State needs to go on and win the Big Ten. Imagine our cognitive dissonance in having to root hard for Ohio State to win the Big Ten the week after losing to them in Columbus. But that's the world we live in.
3) Alabama needs to win out. A one-loss Alabama that is not the SEC champion is going to steal a spot. Because SEC bias is a real thing. It was hard, but I was rooting for Alabama over LSU for this reason.
If those three things happen, we have a very good shot as a one-loss non-Big Ten champion.
Here is our competition in that scenario. The list is very short, but very real.
- A one loss Louisville. They scare me the most. The influential media loves Louisville much more than they should, because they love Lamar Jackson. But Hey media, that's what the Heisman vote is for. Louisville's biggest "win" was a loss to Clemson.
- A one loss Clemson that does not win the ACC. I think an ACC loss at this point kills them because it will be to a marginal ACC team, but they are still a threat.
- And that's pretty much it. A one-loss Washington that does not win the Pac 12 is out versus us. Just compare our games against common-opponent Rutgers and quickly move on. A one-loss WVU that somehow does not win the Big 12 is out. A one-loss Boise State is out.
If the scenario above happens, it comes down to a beauty contest between us and Louisville. In a rational world it should be no contest, but you never know.