Can a one-loss, non-Big Ten champion Michigan make the CFP?

Submitted by M-Dog on November 6th, 2016 at 3:40 PM
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.


Blue Durham

November 6th, 2016 at 4:34 PM ^

It obviously is going to depend on how things shake out the next few weeks, but there is a good chance that a 1-loss Michigan would still be in the top 4 in FEI, AP, etc. when all is said and done.

Back when OSU and Michigan were undefeated and Michigan lost in Columbus, Michigan barely lost getting a rematch, with Florida chosen. A 4 team playoff puts both OSU and Michigan back in 2006 with Michigan a 3 seed.

Blue Durham

November 6th, 2016 at 7:10 PM ^

In the AP Michigan is #2, and in FEI Michigan is #1. There are others I'm sure that Michigan is either #1 or #2.

Or did you mean Ohio State, yes, they are probably averaging #4 or 5. But the difference between 2 slots and 4 in the current playoff format should more than offset the slight difference in circumstances.

In the interim between the matchup, neither Michigan and Ohio State are at all likely to lose a game.  For the other teams, not so much.  Ohio State will be ranked higher, and probably in the top 4, when the game is played.

The Fugitive

November 6th, 2016 at 3:44 PM ^

Washington would need to lose to one of USC/WSU/Colorado


Clemson loses in Conf title game.

Big 12 is out, Pac 12 would be out, and all other SEC teams would have 2 losses.

Leaders And Best

November 6th, 2016 at 3:46 PM ^

It's possible, but it will be very hard to get in that way. And I am not sure a one-loss Michigan would get in over a two-loss conference champion. No one knows how the Committee would treat that because there is no precedent to work with.

It would probably help Michigan if the team that were to win the Pac-12 is Colorado in this hypothetical scenario.


November 6th, 2016 at 3:55 PM ^

The chatter so far is that a one-loss non-conference champion team of the likes of Michigan, Alabama, Clemson, or Ohio State . . . even Louisville . . . would get in over a 2-loss conference champion.  But as you said, there is no precedence.

I hope we win out and some of this other stuff happens so that we can see for the public record how the commitee thinks, without it actually impacting us.



November 6th, 2016 at 5:53 PM ^

seen the results of the CCGs fail to produce at least four champions that are arguably Top 4 teams.

With the Big 12 so awful this year, it would only take one upset for another conference to produce a lame "champion".  If that happens, (e.g. a PAC12 South winner, an ACC Coastal winner, or an SEC East winner), then I think those weak back-door champions would be replaced with indisputably superior non-champions.



November 6th, 2016 at 4:04 PM ^

No, because apparently ESPN AND the cfp committee don't understand the definition of a quality win and that the ranking at the time of the ballgame means absolutely nothing.


Of course, Ohio State can lose to the same PSU team that we crushed (with small linebacker caveats that add up to no more than a touchdown or so), but SUDDENLY that's a quality loss, but our win still sucks.

Fuck stupid people.


November 6th, 2016 at 3:57 PM ^

I don't generally like "if we lose" scenarios.

That said, it's possible. The SEC has no other playoff candidates besides Alabama, the PAC 12 has no candidates besides Washington, and the Big 12 has no candidates at all.

It's still a bit too complex to analyze specific scenarios, but there aren't a lot of teams to leap. Louisville? Washington if they lose a game? We're not talking about a Rube Goldberg machine of disaster, here... a couple of upsets and the committee will be digging through the trash heap, and we're right up near the top of that in this scenario.

Sent from MGoBlog HD for iPhone & iPad


November 6th, 2016 at 4:05 PM ^

I agree.  I don't usually like these scenarios either.

But it really caught my attention when it was pointed out this morning that the mighty SEC has no shot at a second team if Alabama wins out.  They will all have two or more losses.

If a conference is going to get two teams in, it's going to be the Big Ten.

That's quite a shift from as recently as November 2014 when the sentiment was that the Big Ten should not get any teams in.


Blue Durham

November 6th, 2016 at 4:00 PM ^

There are 4 undefeated teams and only 2 1-loss (OSU and Louisville) teams left. It will be very difficult for the committee to take a 2 loss team over Michigan with only a loss to OSU or in the Big Ten championship game.

I doubt that Washington is going to finish undefeated. They still have games against USC, Arizona State and at Washington State, and then the conference championship game, if they make it. They may even lose 2 games.

I also doubt that Clemson, Alabama AND Louisville are all going to win the rest of their games. A lot can happen with the schedule remaining.

And the only team that presently has 2 losses that has been impressive and would be taken over a 1-loss Michigan team is... Wisconsin. And for them to remain undefeated means that OSU gets a 2nd loss.

College football in November can be crazy. I like Michigan's chances to go undefeated, and at worse, 11-1 they still have a very legitimate shot at the playoff given how few 1-loss teams there still are.


November 6th, 2016 at 4:08 PM ^

I really don't think this will be an issue...
Ohio State's offensive line is not good enough to give barret any time to compete throws against our secondary ...the whole passing game will be thoroughly taken away from them with just a 4 or 5 man rush... ya leave peppers as a spy all game long... the only thing they got going for them is samuels,he might cause some headache, webber might get a few chunk plays but i highly doubt he'll be consistent enough to open anything up.. and if you're afraid of this ohio state defense... you haven't been paying attention


November 6th, 2016 at 4:14 PM ^

The only part I am afraid of - and it's fading somewhat - is Ohio State's ability to pressure the QB.  They get in there fast and relentless.

Speight is still a different guy under pressure than when he has time to throw.  He's been good, but he's still not a quick read and release guy.  He needs some time.

Our O-Line and RBs will have to give him some time to operate.  More than OSU usually allows.

They've got 2 more games to refine that.  


November 6th, 2016 at 7:50 PM ^

I don't know if this is necessarily true.

I would have to go back and look over tape to confirm, but my impression is that Michigan's pass rush is relentless when it is fresh; but sometimes later in sustained drives, and occaisionally later in games, the rush has not been quite so fast and fearsome. Of course, most games have hardly been in doubt, so we don't have much to go on to know what would happen if they have to go a full sixty minutes. Again, I would need to reconfirm this and am being cautious, but that would be an area of concern.
[BTW I felt maybe Maryland's most succesful play was on the WR tunnel screens, so it will be interesting to see if Indiana and Ohio State will try that, and what Brown's answers will be]

The important thing will be to keep OSU's offense off the field, and Michigan's offense on it, and scoring TDs when in the scoring zone. That means the same as it always has: avoiding turnovers and wearing down THEIR defense when we have the ball; stopping the run and making JTB uncomfortable when he has to pass.

Then there are variables somewhat beyond control: weather, injuries, and referee calls, particularly how they are calling holding and PI on that particular day.

I am optimistic, but by no means sure of what will happen.