Yes, I am fully aware that Michigan needs to take care of Iowa tomorrow night or else this whole article becomes obsolete. If Michigan were to fall, this article’s demise would be the least of our problems, so let’s start with the assumption that Michigan wins handily tomorrow. Who should Michigan fans be rooting for in the rest of the conference championship games?
The end goal is obviously a national championship. The only reason I even have to mention that is to dispel any subplots from our logic (e.g. beating Ryan Day again, playing a Pac-12 team in the Rose Bowl for old time’s sake, etc.). With that in mind, what realistic scenario presents Michigan with the best chance to hoist the trophy?
Let’s start with the obvious: defending back-to-back national champions Georgia would need to be out of the playoff entirely or at least not see Michigan in the first round. I don’t think I’m going out on a limb when I say that Georgia is the biggest threat to Michigan. For Georgia to be out, that requires an Alabama win in the SEC Championship.
The next most obvious piece of logic is that Florida State is vulnerable. With Jordan Travis out for the year and Tate Rodemaker not exactly lighting the world on fire, I think it’s safe to say that the Seminoles are everyone’s ideal matchup in the first round. For this to happen, Florida State would need to beat Louisville on Saturday.
Realistically, one of the two Pac-12 teams is going to make the CFP. Washington is currently undefeated but not playing their best football. Conversely, Oregon has the one loss at Washington but is on fire offensively; there’s a reason why the Ducks are favored by 9.5 on a neutral site tonight. Personally, I’d rather Michigan have to worry about Washington than Oregon so I’ll be rooting for the Huskies.
At this point (Michigan, Alabama, Florida State, and Washington winning), we’d see Michigan slide up to No. 1, Washington slide up to No. 2, and then some drama for the No. 3 and No. 4 spots with Florida State likely occupying at least one of them. This is where things get murky.
Should Texas lose, we’d have Georgia, Alabama, and Ohio State competing for one spot. Alabama would be the only conference champion of the three and would have the head-to-head over Georgia. I believe Alabama would be in. Should Texas win, you’d be looking at Georgia, Texas, Alabama, and Ohio State all competing for one spot with Oregon eliminated as they’d have two losses. Texas and Alabama would be the only conference champions of the four and Texas would have the head-to-head win but it’s never the simple. I just have a hard time seeing the committee leaving the SEC out in it’s entirety.
In the end, I think Alabama makes it in in either scenario, thus making the Texas vs. Oklahoma State game mostly irrelevant. Going one step further, I believe Alabama would leapfrog Florida State for the No. 3 spot. This would give us No. 1 Michigan vs. No. 4 Florida State and No. 2 Washington vs. No. 3 Alabama. To me, this is the easiest path for Michigan. The Wolverines would get a wounded Seminole team in the first round in the Rose Bowl. They’d then get either a somewhat vulnerable Washington team or an always terrifying Alabama team in the national championship.
My rooting interests this weekend will be for Michigan, Florida State, Alabama, Washington, and Texas, in that order.
But what do you think? What realistic scenario do you think presents Michigan with the best chance of winning the national championship? Michigan can beat any team in the country this year, but which path do you want to see to get there? Try to be as realistic as you can in the comments.