Many people, myself included, have assumed Michigan will ascend to the top 14 of the BCS standings this weekend and get an at-large berth in a BCS bowl.
There's only one question: Why have we assumed that?
Michigan is 16th in the BCS standings entering this weekend's final games. You must be in the top 14 to get an at-large berth in a BCS bowl. Here are the current standings:
So, what does Michigan need to happen this week to go up two spots? Well, the Wisconsin-Michigan State loser from the Big Ten title game would have to fall below the Wolverines. Likely? I think so. But it isn't automatic, not if they have a game similar to the one they played in East Lansing in October when MSU won on the game's final play.
Georgia will have to lose to LSU in the SEC title game, and the Wolverines will be hoping for an LSU rout so the Bulldogs fall enough in the polls to drop below the Wolverines.
But what if home team Baylor beats Texas and gains computer points from beating the team that is 22nd in the BCS standings? Would the Bears move past Michigan?
Then again, if Iowa State upsets Kansas State in Manhattan, K-State would plummet beneath Michigan. And if Southern Mississippi beats Houston in the Conference USA title game, who's to say Houston wouldn't drop from No. 6 all the way out of the top 14?
And, what if Oklahoma State buries Oklahoma Saturday night. Couldn't No. 10 Oklahoma tumble past Michigan?
ESPN's Brad Edwards told the Detroit Free Press it's less than a 50 percent chance for Michigan to crack the top 14.
Let's say Michigan is on the outside looking in come Sunday night. What would the Big Ten's bowl slotting look like if, say, Wisconsin beats Michigan State? I say this:
Capital One: Michigan
Insight: Michigan State
Gator: Ohio State
Meineke Car Care: Iowa
TicketCity: Penn State
Little Caesars: I don't know, either Purdue or Northwestern.
If it's the Meineke, Iowa would be paired with a Big 12 team, likely a 6-6 Texas A&M team that had its head coach, Mike Sherman, fired Thursday. Wow.
Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel adjusted his bowl projections Thursday, and still has Michigan slotted for the Sugar Bowl and Iowa for the Insight against Baylor. For convenience as a sportswriter, I prefer an 11 a.m. game in Houston to a contest that starts around 9 p.m. (Iowa time) in Arizona. For matchups, though, I'd much rather see the Hawkeyes play Baylor and wondrous quarterback Robert Griffin III than the playing-out-the-string Aggies of A&M.Mandel has Iowa State playing Purdue in the TicketCity Bowl, a distinct possibility. ISU fans, I would think, would show up in considerable numbers in Dallas for that Jan. 2 day game.