To guarantee a bowl slot, Michigan must get to 7-5. At 6-6, there would remain a chance, but we would probably need some help. First, let's break down the lay of the land.
The Big Ten has seven bowl tie-ins: Rose, Capital Citrus, Hall of Outback, Alamo, Champs, Insight, and Motor City. A Big Ten team with a 6-6 record can not be selected over a team with a better record, even if the bowl in question is in Detroit and the team in question played Northern Illinois, Bowling Green, Montana State, and Florida Atlantic in their non-conference schedule. 6-6 only gets Michigan in if the Big Ten has remaining slots. Bumping up to eight bids for the conference via the BCS could be huge. With the current +1 format that means there are three at-large bids, plus the two slots for the BCS title game. A second bid for the Big Ten would be very helpful. Unfortunately, it does not look very likely. With Michigan beating Wisconsin, and with Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Penn State all playing each other, the odds of two teams with only one loss are not high. Furthermore, the mid-majors are currently on a tear with three teams currently in the top 17. They will grab at least one of the at-large bids, possibly two.
Now, a 7-5 Michigan team will surely be offered a slot, even if we are 11th in the conference. Sorry, Northwestern, that's just how it is. The key question is, if Michigan ends up 6-6, will that be good enough for top seven, record-wise? Where things stand today:
|Penn State||5 - 0|
|Northwestern||5 - 0|
|Michigan State||4 - 1|
|Ohio State||4 - 1|
|Minnesota||4 - 1|
|Wisconsin||3 - 1|
|Iowa||3 - 2|
The top four teams and Wisconsin are sure to be going bowling and will surely be better than 6-6. That leaves two open bowl bids. Guessing their final record based on what the teams have remaining:
|Minnesota*||6 - 6|
|Iowa||5 - 7|
|Purdue||5 - 7|
|Indiana||3 - 9|
|Illinois||7 - 5|
Beacuse these are mere guesses, you see that for those final two spots, it's going to be very tight. Anyone except Indiana could conceivably reach 7-5 this season. There's no clear prediction, but we do know that getting to 7-5 will guarantee Michigan a berth, regardless of what happens.
So what's Michigan going to do then? On one hand, I'm going to get a bit mathy with this, and on the other, I'm going with my gut. But I had math flakes for breakfast, so maybe my guts can crunch these numbers.
|Game||Chance of Victory||Expected Record|
|Illinois||35%||2.35 - 2.65|
|Toledo||90%||3.25 - 2.75|
|at Penn State||15%||3.4 - 3.6|
|Michigan State||30%||3.7 - 4.3|
|at Purdue||50%||4.2 - 4.8|
|at Minnesota||65%||4.85 - 5.15|
|Northwestern||40%||5.25 - 5.75|
|at Ohio State||25%||5.5 - 6.5|
Perhaps I'm being a bit pessimistic here; let me know what you think of the percentages. If these guesses are correct, the final prediction comes down to whether you round up wins or losses. The Wisconsin win changed everything. If the team were sitting at 1-3 right now, change that final prediction to 4.5-7.5 and start praying really hard. The bottom line is, every game counts from here on out. A bowl game is within reach, but not without at least one more upset. This week would be a great time to start. I recommend beginning by fielding the kickoff.