So, my plan for the bye week was to write a complicated formula that would somehow result in Michigan playing January 4th in New Orleans. It was really great, really well thought out, and really impossible. Looking at who was ahead of the Wolverines with just 3 or 4 weeks of football left, the outlook was bleak at best, with powerhouses Florida State, Miami, Virginia Tech, and USC looking down upon us and our two losses. Nobody seemed to have a formidable schedule remaining, so it would take a miracle to get us back into the National Championship hunt. I was content with that fact. The last few weeks had me settling on the task at hand, winning our remaining games, including a drubbing of Ohio State, and getting back to the Rose Bowl.
And then it happened. All in one day. A special day, where there was no game to attend, no road trip to plan, no food to prepare. The college football world came crashing down on this day as Miami, Florida State, and Virginia Tech all fell victim to the upset. When the dust settled, there was Oklahoma, USC, Ohio State, LSU, and Michigan. No longer was it a complicated formula to get us to New Orleans, it was a simple one. Win out, and with a slip up by LSU and USC, we're in. LSU's remaining schedule is very difficult, including games @ Alabama, Arkansas, and @ Ole Miss. If they win all of those, they will still have to endure an SEC conference championship game...so that side of the outlook is good. On the other hand, USC has a cakewalk into New Orleans. A win against lethargic Arizona, followed by a win against UCLA on November 22nd, and their season ends on Bourbon Street. (USC also has a game on 12/6 against Oregon State-WM Ammended 11/10/03) But that's why they play the games. USC has shown it can hiccup against a lesser opponent (34-31 loss to the 5-5 Cal Bears) so anything can happen.
But anything can happen to our mighty Wolverines as well. A slip up against the Buckeyes, or worse yet, against Northwestern, and it becomes yet another story of what could have been. Iowa? Oregon? Take away a fun punt or two and we'd be sitting pretty next to the Sooners.
Do We Belong?
That will quickly become the story as things play out. Why should Michigan be the two-loss team to go? Well, Michigan has beaten a top-10 team in the last two consecutive weeks, and if they win out, they will most likely have beaten another. And remember this, a case can be made that the Big 10 is one of the top two conferences. The champion of that conference should represent them in the National Championship game. And don't fret, if we take care of business and things don't fall into place...we still have the Rose Bowl to 'fall back on'.