With the start of college football just around the corner, Athlon Sports looked towards the end of the 2022-23 season to project how bowl season could shake out.
It doesn’t come as quite of a surprise a potential Big Ten representative in the College Football Playoff could be determined by the Michigan-Ohio State game once again. While Michigan was finally able to get past Ohio State to secure its first CFP semifinal appearance last season, this offseason has seen a lot of discussion about Michigan’s capabilities to return to the same stage this year.
Michigan should remain a strong contender with a lot of its core strength returning and some star studded new additions joining on, but heading on the road to Ohio State at the end of the season could be too big a hurdle to clear. It’s been 22 years since Michigan last won in Columbus, and that could be a strong indicator as to why predictions at Athlon had Michigan out of the CFP this year.
While Michigan was out of championship contention, Athlon did project the Wolverines to be the Big Ten representative in the Rose Bowl. The Wolverines were selected to go head to head with Utah, their Pac-12 counterpart, in a really early look at the end of the 2022 season. Michigan, of course, won the Rose Bowl during the 1997-98 undefeated season to claim its most recent National Championship and this year is the 25th anniversary. It stings Michigan wasn’t predicted to return to the CFP this year, but the potential to return to the Rose Bowl during the 25 year anniversary of the Rose Bowl championship win might make up for it.
Michigan last played in the Rose Bowl during the 2006-07 season, losing to USC. With USC set to join the Big Ten in 2024 along with UCLA, there was talk about how the Rose Bowl would diminish because of the move. This was already a concern as bowl games are already starting to lose relevance in the current national championship system. While bowl games aren’t what they used to be, there would be a lot of meaning given to the Rose Bowl this year if Michigan returned to Pasadena during its 25th anniversary.
This is obviously the back up dream to winning the national championship this season, but wouldn’t it be cool to play on the same stage at the Rose Bowl these 25 years later? It’s too early to know how this season will shake out, but landing in the Rose Bowl this year would be a really nice prize.