The Michigan Wolverines are now only one win away from bowl eligibility this season, and you have to admit, after watching the first part of the season, you probably never thought this would even be a realistic possibility. But here we are. If Michigan can beat Maryland in two weeks, they’re in; it doesn’t matter what happens against Ohio State. Of course, there’s the unlikely scenario that the Wolverines fall to Maryland and then bounce back to beat the Buckeyes, but let’s stick with Option A. (Option C: Michigan wins out and the sun begins revolving around the Earth.)
Should Michigan be able to salvage one more win in its final two games of the season, there are a few bowl game possibilities I see. Unlike other Big Ten teams like Nebraska, Michigan will not be limited in where it lands in the postseason. The Big Ten Conference told ESPN.com that it really wants to avoid repeat bowl destinations and even repeat postseason areas for teams. For a team like Michigan that would undoubtedly need to sneak into the picture with only six wins, that would possibly put the clamps on bowl game possibilities.
The Wolverines have been to Tempe, Ariz.; Tampa, Fla.; and New Orleans, La., the last three seasons, so I think they’re safe in those regards. (I used Nebraska as an example of the contrary because the Cornhuskers have played their postseason ball in Florida the last three seasons.) All you basically need to know is that the Big Ten pretty much controls the bowl game picture, not the bowls themselves, but Michigan shouldn’t find itself in the middle of anything sticky there.
Now for the possibilities…
Quick Lane Bowl • Dec. 26 • Big Ten vs. ACC
I think this might make the most sense for Michigan. The Quick Lane Bowl is hosted in Detroit, Mich., meaning it would effectively be a home game for the Wolverines vs. whomever they would face out of the ACC. Given the negative trend we’ve been seeing this season in attendance at the Big House, it’s fair to question just how well the fan base would travel this year. That’s something these bowls—or the Big Ten, really—should weigh if Michigan is eligible to compete this postseason.
Heart Of Dallas Bowl • Dec. 26 • Big Ten vs. CUSA
Pitting Michigan against a CUSA team could be potentially disastrous for the program. Let’s assume Brady Hoke is still Michigan’s head coach going into this game; can you imagine what would happen if his team were to lose to UTEP? Or Middle Tennessee? Or Louisiana Tech? If the Heart Of Dallas Bowl does in fact call for Michigan, and the Big Ten approves, God be with us on Dec. 26. God be with us.
Holiday Bowl • Dec. 27 • Big Ten vs. Pac-12
I’m stretching this a little bit because the Pac-12 is likely to going to have a good team—like maybe Arizona—in the Holiday Bowl, and the last thing anybody wants is a bowl game that isn’t competitive. It’s bad for the conference, bad for the team, bad for the fans, bad for everyone. However, I won’t rule it out. The Big Ten is going to ask each bowl to send a list of its top three choices, and if the dominos fall correctly during these final few weeks, I think the Holiday Bowl could call for Michigan.
Tyler Fenwick is the managing editor of TheBigHouseReport.com. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.