ANN ARBOR, Mich. - It's a very important Election Day in the state of Michigan, and it's also a big night for the Michigan football team.
Throughout the day, residents across the state will pack polling places to elect a new governor, vote on proposals and decide other critical races. Then, after the polls close, Michigan fans will turn their attention to the College Football Playoff committee's updated rankings.
Michigan figures to rise to No. 4 in the poll after LSU's loss to No. 1 Alabama. As one of the top four teams, Michigan controls its own destiny for the playoff, and that's thanks to an eight-game winning streak since the opening loss to Notre Dame.
In honor of Election Day, here are the races and candidates for the top Michigan football positions.
Clutch County clerk
Michigan hasn't had many close games this season, especially during the winning streak. In fact, only two games have been within 20 points.
But during those few clutch moments, who has risen to the occasion and helped keep Michigan's playoff hopes alive?
Representing the Deep Threat Party, Donovan Peoples-Jones would like to remind voters that it was his 79-yard touchdown catch that proved to be the game-winner in the third quarter against Michigan State.
Despite dominating the entire game, the Wolverines found themselves tied with the Spartans late in the third quarter because of a pair of untimely fumbles. The game was starting to slip away, and the offense needed a spark.
Following two fumbles and a punt, Peoples-Jones beat his man down the right sideline on the first play of the ensuing drive, catching a perfect pass from Shea Patterson, stepping out of a tackle and dashing 79 yards into the end zone.
From the Sacks Party of Ann Arbor, Uche's campaign centers on the consistency with which he's impacted big games.
The junior defensive lineman paced a dominant Michigan defense against MSU with a pair of sacks. He also had two sacks against Northwestern in a 20-17 victory, including one that ended the game.
Uche threw in a couple more sacks against Penn State for good measure.
As the team leader with seven sacks, there's no doubt Uche has shown up for the biggest games.
Sure, the Not Just A Passer Party might not be considered among the big boys, but Patterson thinks he deserves a chance in this race.
When Michigan faces critical short-yardage situations, Patterson's ability to run the ball has been a huge difference maker. He picked up first downs on three different third-and-6 plays against Northwestern, keeping Michigan's eventual scoring drives alive.
He also got the Michigan offense rolling against Wisconsin with an 81-yard in the first quarter.
When the Wolverines were trying to ice the game against Michigan State in the fourth quarter, Patterson kept the ball on a fourth and 2, scampering 11 yards for a first down. Michigan would score five plays later to put the game away.
Patterson scored a touchdown and picked up 42 yards on 11 carries in the game against Penn State.
Please submit your vote for Clutch County clerk below.
Secretary of special teams
Michigan has gotten some strong special teams play this season, and for a team that leans on its defense and relies on field position, that's very important.
There can only be one secretary of special teams, though.
The Punters Matters Party has a strong representative this season, as Michigan ranks second in the nation in punting.
Hart has booted all 31 punts for the Wolverines this season, including 17 for at least 50 yards and 12 inside the 20-yard line. Only Texas A&M averages more yards per punt than Michigan.
On the back of Hart's Field Flipping Foot, the PMP feels it has a strong case to win back the SOST seat.
The Bench Not Ben Party provided the following video submission:
Please submit your vote for secretary of special teams below.
Michigan defensive general
The Michigan defense ranks No. 1 in the country, allowing nearly 50 fewer yards per game than any other team in the nation. It's stout at all three levels, but who's been the best player overall?
Winovich represents the defensive line and the Lunch Money Interest Party, and he's been very outspoken on behalf of his team.
He ranks third on the team with 45 total tackles and four sacks, and leads the defense with 12 tackles for loss.
With a relentless motor during the game and absolutely no fear in pregame and postgame interviews, Winovich has become the face of the Michigan football team and its "revenge tour."
The All-American became a midseason member of the Turf Management Party and is a strong candidate for defensive general.
Bush has a team-leading 56 total tackles, ranks second with 4.5 sacks and third with seven tackles for loss. He's the anchor in the middle of Don Brown's defense, and his ability to outrun opposing skill players to the sideline allows the Wolverines to be aggressive in the backfield.
Long Island Party representative David Long doesn't have as many tackles as the other candidates, but that's because opposing quarterbacks have simply stopped throwing in his direction.
The junior cornerback draws one-on-one assignments against the best receivers in the Big Ten and dominates pretty much every week. He's only got one interception this season, but he leads the team with seven pass breakups.
Brandon Watson is running as a write-in candidate for the Pick-Six Party. He leads the team with three interceptions and has returned two of them for touchdowns.
As the No. 3 cornerback, Watson sometimes finds himself in the shadow of Long and Lavert Hill, but he's been a critical part of the secondary this year, especially since Brown uses so much single-man coverage.
The controversy swirling around Watson might hurt his campaign, as rumors have surfaced that quarterbacks thought they were supposed to throw touchdown passes to him, not the man he's guarding.
Please submit your vote for Michigan defensive general below.
Governor of offense
The Plow Forward Party believes it has this seat in the bag after Karan Higdon rushed for more than 100 yards for the seventh time in a row.
The senior running back has played in eight games this season, ranking ninth in the nation with 120.38 yards per game. He put up 144 yards on 33 carries against the nation's No. 1 rush defense in East Lansing and leads the team with seven rushing scores.
At 963 yards per carry, Higdon promises to go over 1,000 this weekend against Rutgers, if elected.
Peoples-Jones' controversial decision to run for Clutch County clerk opened up a spot for Gentry to run for GoO as the Pass Catchers Party representative.
The tight end is tied for the team lead with 25 catches this season and third with 350 receiving yards. He's one of Patterson's favorite targets, especially for chunk plays on early downs.
Michigan's new leader in receiving yards was snubbed by the Pass Catchers Party and will instead run as a Longballs Only candidate.
Nico Collins has 23 catches for 373 yards this season, and has been a savior for Michigan in Tarik Black's absence.
Collins has already caught passes for 52, 51, 47 and 44 yards this season. When Patterson wants to go downfield, Collins is the No. 1 target.
Please submit your vote for governor of offense below.
Lieutenant game manager
Head coach Jim Harbaugh has done an excellent job turning around the Michigan football program, but his assistant coaches also deserve a lot of credit. Who has been the best assistant coach this season?
Representing the powerhouse Harbaugh Sang About Me In A Press Conference Party, Don Brown has already been projected by most major outlets as the runaway leader for Lt. GM.
His defense ranks No. 1 in the country after holding Michigan State under 100 yards and stifling ranked teams in Wisconsin and Penn State.
It's impossible to pass against Michigan. It's hard to run against Michigan. What can teams do? Beg Brown for mercy, mostly.
The leader of the Thick But Nimble Party has orchestrated by far the most incredible turnaround on the team, as Michigan's offensive line went from disaster to strength over the course of two months.
A unit that looked lost in the opener against Notre Dame is now among the best in the nation at keeping the quarterback upright and opening holes for the running game.
Warinner has been one of the best signings in the country this year.
Please submit your vote for lieutenant game manager below.
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