Every possible bowl game and matchup for Michigan football -- what it would take for each to happen

Wolverines currently 11-0, ranked No. 3 in College Football Playoff rankings

Blake Corum #2 of the Michigan Wolverines runs for a first half touchdown behind Tyreke Johnson #1 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Michigan Stadium on November 12, 2022 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Gregory Shamus, 2022 Getty Images)

ANN ARBOR, Mich.Michigan has already locked up either a New Year’s Six or College Football Playoff appearance, but there are still five different bowl games the team could end up in.

The Wolverines are 11-0 and ranked No. 3 in the CFP poll with only a matchup against Ohio State remaining in the regular season. Here are all the possible remaining bowl game destinations and matchups.

College Football Playoff semifinal

If Michigan goes into Columbus and shocks Ohio State, it will lock up a spot in the playoff for the second straight year -- likely regardless of the outcome in the Big Ten Championship Game.

This year, the Peach Bowl and Fiesta Bowl will host the two playoff semifinals, so Michigan could end up in either one.

If Georgia wins the SEC title and finishes 13-0, it will be the No. 1 team in the final rankings and likely receive a bid to the Peach Bowl (since it’s nearby in Atlanta). If Michigan is the Big Ten champion, it will head to the Fiesta Bowl as the No. 2 seed.

A loss in the Big Ten title game would leave open the possibility of Michigan finishing the season ranked No. 4. Obviously, in that instance, it could find itself in a rematch with Georgia in Atlanta, if the Bulldogs are No. 1.

If Michigan loses to Ohio State but USC, Clemson, and LSU all lose, the Wolverines could potentially make the playoff at 11-1 and end up in Atlanta. However, I find it extremely unlikely that the Big Ten will get two teams in the playoff (read why here).

Possible opponents: If Michigan ends up in the playoff it could match up with Georgia, Ohio State (technically), TCU, LSU, USC, or Clemson.

Rose Bowl

This is the betting favorite in terms of where Michigan is most likely to land. If the Wolverines lose to Ohio State and then the Buckeyes win the Big Ten title, Michigan will make its first Rose Bowl appearance since 2006.

It’s not what Jim Harbaugh and his team are hoping for, but the Rose Bowl isn’t a bad consolation prize. Michigan would either play the Pac-12 champion or the second-highest ranked Pac-12 team if USC makes the playoff.

USC has already locked up a spot in the Pac-12 Championship Game, and Oregon would do the same with a win over Oregon State this weekend. If Oregon loses, Washington and Utah could force a tie for second-place.

If Oregon and Washington are tied for second place, Washington would play USC in the conference title game.

If Oregon, Washington, and Utah are all tied for second place in the league at 7-2, the determination would be made via the Pac-12′s third tiebreaker rule. I’ll spare you the details and tell you that Utah goes to the conference title game if Oregon State beats Oregon, Washington beats Washington State, Utah beats Colorado, and UCLA beats Cal.

Possible opponents: USC, Oregon, Washington, Utah

Orange Bowl

Michigan played in the Orange Bowl semifinal last season, but that wouldn’t prevent the Wolverines from heading back to South Florida.

If Ohio State loses to the Big Ten West champion in the conference title game, then that Big Ten West team would go to the Rose Bowl. Ohio State would likely still make the playoff, leaving Michigan among a pool of teams needing an at-large bid to the New Year’s Six.

When the Orange Bowl isn’t a semifinal game, it pits the ACC champion (as long as that team isn’t in the playoff) against the highest-ranked non-playoff, non-champ from the Big Ten, SEC, or Notre Dame.

In other words, if Michigan is not the Big Ten champion and is not in the playoff, it will go to the Orange Bowl if it’s ranked higher than every other non-playoff SEC team and Notre Dame.

Would Michigan still be ranked ahead of Alabama after a theoretical loss to Ohio State? That’s the question that would determine an Orange Bowl invite.

The ACC champ will play in the Orange Bowl unless it goes to the playoff. If North Carolina beats Clemson, the Tar Heels will head to the Orange Bowl. If Clemson takes the crown, it will only go to the Orange Bowl if it isn’t playoff-bound.

If Clemson goes to the playoff, Florida State is the most likely Orange Bowl participant. The Seminoles are already ranked ahead of North Carolina, so that would likely remain true if UNC loses to Clemson.

Louisville is No. 25 in the CFP poll, but if Clemson went to the playoff, North Carolina lost its last two games, and Florida State lost to Florida, maybe the Cardinals could end up as the highest-ranked ACC team behind Clemson.

Possible opponents: Clemson, North Carolina, Florida State, Louisville (technically)

Cotton Bowl

The Cotton Bowl is another possible destination for Michigan if Ohio State loses in the Big Ten Championship Game.

Since there’s no Group of Five team in the playoff discussion this season, the highest-ranked champion out of the American, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West, and Sun Belt will play in the Cotton Bowl.

In this specific scenario, if Michigan falls below Alabama in the rankings and therefore misses out on the Orange Bowl, its final destination will be in Dallas against a Group of Five champion.

The Group of Five representative will likely come from the American Athletic Conference, as Tulane, UCF, and Cincinnati are all ranked in the top 25.

But if something crazy happens, like Cincinnati and Tulane splitting two matchups over the next two weeks, maybe that could open the door for a team that dominated its conference like UTSA or Boise State. The Sun Belt is also interesting with four solid teams in contention.

Possible opponents: Tulane, UCF, Cincinnati, UTSA, Boise State, Coastal Carolina, James Madison, Troy, South Alabama

About the Author:

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.