Well, that could have been better.
Last week, I laid out scenarios in which Michigan could be invited to a New Year's Six bowl, whether it be the Rose, Fiesta, or Peach Bowl. However, all of those scenarios required one thing: beat Ohio State. Unfortunately, one week after the Buckeyes blew their Big Ten shot against a Connor Cook-less Michigan State, they looked like the team that, in the preseason, most of the nation feared that we'd see week in and week out.
With Ohio State, Michigan State, and Iowa each winning this weekend, the Big Ten's bowl pecking order is fairly set at the top. Given that the Hawkeyes and the Spartans were No. 4 and No. 5 in last week's College Football Playoff rankings, respectively, the winner of their showdown next week for a Big Ten championship should clinch a berth in the semifinals. Either the loser or the Buckeyes, who will be 11-1 and likely No. 6 in Tuesday's new rankings, will be invited to the Rose Bowl, while the other will participate in the Fiesta or Peach Bowl. Three Big Ten teams should be in New Year's Six bowls.
None of those are Michigan, who will fall out of contention after its loss to Ohio State. The Wolverines are 9-3 and will drop enough in the rankings that there's no chance that a New Year's Six bowl would consider them. That should leave Michigan available for the first non-New Year's Six bowl that is allowed to submit a request for a Big Ten team:
It's hard to imagine a scenario where the Citrus Bowl would select Northwestern (10-2, 6-2 Big Ten) or Wisconsin (9-3, 6-2 Big Ten) over the Wolverines. Not only does Michigan have the same conference record as both, Michigan will be a much bigger draw than either. Plus, the Wolverines haven't been to Orlando since Lloyd Carr's final season.
In my mind, the only question is whom Michigan will play in the Citrus Bowl. My best guess is Florida, who sits at 10-2 (7-1 SEC) and should lose to No. 2 Alabama in the SEC Championship Game this weekend. If that's the case, I think Florida, which has struggled since quarterback Will Grier was suspended, will fall enough that the Sugar Bowl, which is contracted to select an SEC team when it's not a semifinal, will take Ole Miss instead. Then the Gators would be the first available SEC team to be picked by the Citrus Bowl. However, the Sugar Bowl still could desire Florida, leaving Ole Miss for the Citrus Bowl.
But we will know for certain next Sunday when the bowl lineup officially is announced.