Michigan may not be playing today, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t football to watch. With the exception of the PAC-12, the major conference championship games will be played this afternoon. These games will decide who is in the CFP and in which bowl game Michigan will play.
The schedule below will list all the games and the networks they will be broadcast on. There will also be a brief breakdown of how they factor into the CFP picture and how they could change Michigan’s bowl destination.
So sit back, relax, and hangout in the comments section if you like.
MAC: Toledo vs. Akron - Noon ET, ESPN
There’s nothing in this game that will change the CFP or Michigan’s bowl destination. The best to hope for is some #MACtion insanity. The S&P+ puts Toledo’s win probability at 82%
C-USA: Florida Atlantic vs North Texas - Noon ET, ESPN2
When Lane Kiffin isn’t trolling Nick Saban on Twitter and wallowing in schadenfreude derived from Tennessee’s misfortune, he is actually coaching football. His Florida Atlantic... uh. Ah, yes. The Owls. His Florida Atlantic Owls are 9-3 on the season and look to wrap up the C-USA title this afternoon. The S&P+ puts FAU’s win probability at 70%.
Big XII: Oklahoma vs TCU - 12:30 ET, Fox
This is the first of the ‘big’ games today. Oklahoma is currently ranked No. 3 in the CFP, and it’s simple - win or go home. Well, not really home. But a non-CFP bowl game. The Sooners will be playing the No. 11 Horned Frogs of TCU. They don’t really have a chance of jumping into the playoff, so their goal—other than playing spoiler and winning a conference title—is to leap up into a better bowl game.
An Oklahoma win doesn’t affect Michigan’s bowl destination, but an Oklahoma loss might (most likely in a bad way). If you’re generally rooting for mayhem, a Big XII game is a good way to start your day. The S&P+ puts Oklahoma’s probability of victory at 59%.
SEC: Georgia vs Auburn - 4:00 ET, CBS
Here’s where things start to get real. No. 2 Auburn (10-2) and No. 6 Georgia (11-1) will decide at least one CFP spot. If Auburn wins, they’re in - it’s that simple. If Georgia wins, I’m fairly confident that they’ll be in as well. If Georgia loses a tight game, I think there’s still a chance they could get in with a loss by Oklahoma or Wisconsin.
This game could affect Michigan’s bowl destination. If there are two SEC teams in the CFP, that means the likelihood of there being one B1G team is reduced - which is bad for Michigan. For Michigan to make it to the Outback Bowl, there very likely needs to be a B1G representative in the CFP. The S&P+ puts Georgia’s win probability at 53%. Michigan fans should cheer for Auburn.
MWC: Boise State vs Fresno State - 7:45 ET, ESPN
This is an interesting game in an interesting time slot. Last week, Fresno State beat Boise State 28-17. This week is the rubber match for the Mountain West crown. Unfortunately for these schools, and ESPN, this game means absolutely nothing for the top-end bowls and it’s on at the same time as the ACC and B1G championship games.
Maybe keep this one in mind just in case the ACC and B1G games go to halftime at the same time. It should be a decent game, all things considered. The S&P+ puts Boise State’s win probability at 53%.
ACC: Clemson vs Miami - 8:00 ET, ABC
No. 1 Clemson needs a win to be in the playoff. No. 7 Miami needs a win to be in the playoff (yes, I think Miami gets in with a win). Clemson dropped a... honestly, I don’t know an adequate adjective. The have a freaking bad loss to Syracuse from back in the middle of October. Miami, not to be outdone, got #rekt by a 5-win Pittsburgh team. Last week. Pitt had a negative turnover margin but still won time of possession, total offense, and—of course—the game by 10 points. Ouch.
Luckily for both teams, the top-end of college football is kinda down this year. According to the S&P+, Michigan’s 2016 team (and about six other teams from last year) would be the best team in college football this year. I just don’t see the committee leaving the ACC out of the playoff, even though both of these teams have terrible losses. However, short of absolute mayhem going down, I don’t see two ACC teams getting in either - so this one is winner take all. The S&P+ puts Clemson’s win probability at 57%. As explained below, it’s better for Michigan if Clemson wins this one.
Big Ten: Wisconsin vs Ohio State - 8:00 ET, Fox
This is the big one. No. 4 Wisconsin against No. 8 Ohio State. For Wisconsin, it’s win and they’re in. For Ohio State, I think they need a minor miracle to get into the CFP - and that’s bad for Michigan’s bowl. It’s clear that the committee isn’t very high on the Big Ten, or Wisconsin, this year. The Badgers are the sole remaining undefeated team in a P5 conference, and the committee has them ranked fourth. Behind a team that lost to Syracuse. And another team with two losses. Yeesh. For Ohio State to get in, I honestly don’t know what needs to happen - aside from them beating Wisconsin.
If Miami beats Clemson, Miami moves into the playoff and Clemson falls out. Do they fall behind OSU in the rankings? I’m not sure. If Oklahoma loses to TCU, the Big XII is out of the CFP - but that also make OSU’s loss to them earlier in the year worse in the eyes of the committee. If Georgia beats Auburn, Georgia will move up into the CFP. Will OSU move ahead of Auburn in the pecking order? I don’t know. Auburn has better wins than OSU and the committee will probably value Auburn’s loss to LSU the way it values OSU’s loss to Iowa.
If Ohio State wins and the rest of the games go as projected (Clemson, Auburn, Oklahoma wins), I think Ohio State gets frozen out of the last CFP spot - I really do. In that situation, I think Alabama moves up from the No. 5 slot and the committee takes two SEC teams. If the Auburn/Georgia game is a phenomenal slugfest and ends up being a close game, maybe Georgia gets the last spot. The Big Ten being left out of the playoff is bad for Michigan because it will force all the teams down one slot in the bowl pecking order, which means Holiday at best for the Wolverines.
So that’s my take. If you see it differently, tell me how I’m wrong down in the comments. Otherwise grab a beverage, put your feet up, and enjoy some football today. It promises to be an eventful one.