I don’t see Michigan in play for a playoff spot no matter what happens. If Washington and/or Clemson lose, I see the committee going for the B1G champ over Michigan and they aren’t putting three B1G teams in the playoff.
The committee understands that if it takes Ohio State alone from the B1G, it will obviously ignore the conference champion. The idealistic view is that the major conference champions more or less feed into the playoff. They will debate taking solely Ohio State over Penn State should the Lions win Saturday – so much so that I could see Ohio State getting dropped out if Penn State wins. The “only Ohio” scenario is less of a concern if Wisconsin wins for sure, but still a concern.
Given the opportunity of a slot opening up, they will thankfully take the B1G champ. I think they signal this tonight by putting Michigan at #6, but even if they have them at #5, they will justify the B1G champ jumping them in the final rankings based on the championship win.
So that leaves Michigan out. But to me the consolation prize is pretty agreeable. With the B1G champ in the playoff, the Rose Bowl has discretion and will take Michigan. Under the scenario that Washington loses to Colorado to free up the B1G champ to be in the playoff, this would set-up a rematch with the Buffaloes. Some might argue that they wouldn’t want a U-M vs. CU rematch. What they really don’t want is Colorado–but they won’t have that choice (they must take the PAC 10 champ). So given the best option to make the game special, they will go for Michigan and Harbaugh of course – rematch be damned. It’s been a decade, you know you want to go back and Michigan just participated in a 10.4 rating for a noon game.
If things go according to script, with Clemson and Washington winning, I still see debate of Ohio State vs. Penn State/Wisconsin for the playoff spot but only one B1G team will end up in the final four. In this case, yes, Michigan heads to Miami and the Orange Bowl as widely projected.
Cheers to the Rose Bowl: