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Michigan football weekend rooting guide -- Nov. 10-12

Wolverines hit road to battle Iowa

De'Veon Smith celebrates after a run against Maryland in 2016.
De'Veon Smith celebrates after a run against Maryland in 2016.

As long as the Michigan Wolverines are in contention for the College Football Playoff, ClickOnDetroit.com will list each weekend's games that could help U of M's quest to reach the Final Four.

The pool of college football teams still in contention for the playoff continues to dwindle, with only seven Power 5 teams with one or no losses remaining.

Michigan, the lone unbeaten team in the Big Ten, is right in the thick of the race.

This weekend's games are extremely important to the playoff landscape. Only three weeks stand between the remaining contenders and their conference championship games, so each Saturday is either an opportunity to move up or a hurdle to survive.

READBig Ten football power rankings

Michigan controls its own destiny, but with Ohio State rounding into form, the showdown in Columbus is shaping up to be a incredibly difficult challenge. Here are some of the games that would improve Michigan's playoff chances, even if it slips up before the end of the season.

For a more in-depth explanation about why we post these rooting guides, click here. To see how last weekend went for the Wolverines, click here.

Must-haves

These are the games that absolutely have to go Michigan's way to keep its playoff hopes alive.

Michigan over Iowa (8 p.m. Saturday): This is Michigan's toughest road test of the season before the trip to Columbus. Iowa has lost two straight games, but always seems to give Michigan a challenge at Kinnick Stadium. If Michigan wins, its playoff hopes stay on track.

Toss-ups

These are the games that would help Michigan's playoff chances and have a realistic chance of happening.

Duke over North Carolina (Duke 28, North Carolina 27): North Carolina is shaping up to be one of the top two-loss teams in the country, which could create a tricky situation if the Tarheels somehow win the ACC title and finish 11-2. With a loss to Duke, one of the ACC's four potential contenders would be erased.

Arizona State over Utah (Utah 49, Arizona State 26): This is a very big under-the-radar game, and it's not because Utah is a legitimate playoff contender. If the Utes fall to Arizona State and tumble out of the rankings, Washington will lose its only win over a ranked team. That would greatly damage Washington's chance to make the playoffs as a one-loss conference champion.

Baylor over Oklahoma (Noon Saturday): Baylor's season ended last weekend with it losing by 40 points to an average TCU team. The Bears have a chance this weekend to take down one of the Big 12's final, desperate hopes for a playoff bid.

South Carolina over Florida (Noon Saturday): Like Baylor, Florida picked up its second loss of the season last Saturday in embarrassing fashion, watching its playoff hopes die. But a third loss would further crush the image of the SEC East and widen the Big Ten's lead as the best conference in college football.

UCF over Cincinnati (Noon Saturday): One year after going 0-12, UCF is a win away from bowl eligibility. If the Knights can take down Cincinnati and pull off an upset in one of their final two games, that would give Michigan another nonconference win over a team with a winning record. In fact, UCF is even stronger than its 5-4 record, as three losses came by one possession.

Texas over West Virginia (Noon Saturday): Barring absolute mayhem over the final three weeks (which is a distinct possibility, as college football has shown us in the past), West Virginia is the last Big 12 team that would have a chance to get into the playoff over a one-loss Michigan team. Texas could take care of that this weekend.

Penn State over Indiana (Noon Saturday): Penn State really needs to be careful against an Indiana team on the brink of bowl eligibility. If the Nittany Lions continue to win, they'll continue to move up in the top 10 of the rankings, strengthening Michigan's resume.

Northwestern over Purdue (Noon Saturday): No matter what the committee says, I believe that the Big Ten teams would have an advantage if the conference as a whole continues to succeed. Northwestern has a chance to be a 10th team in the conference to qualify for a bowl game, but it needs this win over Purdue.

Georgia over Auburn (3:30 p.m. Saturday): Auburn is one of the few teams in the country that controls its own destiny en route to the College Football Playoff. The Tigers would definitely made the field of four with a win at Alabama and an SEC title, unless they lose to Georgia first.

Georgia Tech over Virginia Tech (3:30 p.m. Saturday): Virginia Tech is in a very similar position to North Carolina, except Virginia Tech already won the head-to-head meeting. The Hokies have the inside track to the ACC Coastal Division title, so a loss in the final three weeks would be devastating.

Appalachian State over Troy (3:30 p.m. Saturday): it's truly incredible that this game has any bearing on the top four, but Clemson's win over Troy is really helping its resume, as the Trojans are undefeated since their game against the Tigers. If Michigan and Clemson both lost a game, the Wolverines don't want Clemson to have a win over a 12-1 Troy team.

Wisconsin over Illinois (3:30 p.m. Saturday): Wisconsin finally controls its own destiny in the Big Ten West Division. The CFP committee chairman said this week that the Badgers have separated themselves from the other one-loss teams in the country. That means that Michigan's win over Wisconsin will continue to be one of the best wins in the country as long as the Badgers continue to win.

Texas Tech over Oklahoma State (3:30 p.m. Saturday): Teams rarely go from irrelevant to top 15 as quickly as Oklahoma State did, and the Cowboys still have a chance to make another big jump against rival Oklahoma later in the year.

Ole Miss over Texas A&M (7:30 p.m. Saturday): Texas A&M somehow fell only four spots after being dominated by a 3-5 team. If the Aggies fall to 4-5 Ole Miss, maybe they'll drop out of the top 10.

USC over Washington (7:30 p.m. Saturday): This is one of the biggest remaining games of the college football season. If USC can top Washington, it will throw the Pac-12 into a complete tailspin. If Washington wins, it will pick up a much-needed second big win.

Colorado over Arizona (10 p.m. Saturday): Colorado is 7-2 with a chance to play in the Pac-12 championship game. What a huge nonconference win that has turned out to be for Michigan. The more Colorado wins, the better Michigan's body of work looks.

Get greedy

These are games that would help Michigan's playoff chances but probably won't happen.

Boston College over Florida State (7:30 p.m. Friday): Florida State is an overrated team based on its resume, but that doesn't change the fact that the Seminoles are a huge boost to both Clemson's and Louisville's resumes. Boston College is awful, so an upset here would throw an enormous wrench into the ACC's image.

Pittsburgh over Clemson (3:30 p.m. Saturday): Clemson is obviously one of Michigan's top competitors outside the Big Ten. Any undefeated teams that lose and improve Michigan's standing would be a win for the Wolverines.

Maryland over Ohio State (3:30 p.m. Saturday): Remember what Ohio State did to Nebraska last week? Poor Maryland.

Hawaii over Boise State (7 p.m. Saturday): Michigan hopes every week that Hawaii will pick up a big win and help its resume. Hawaii always seems to falls short.

Wake Forest over Louisville (7 p.m. Saturday): Nobody was happier than Louisville to see Texas A&M fall last weekend. The Cardinals are lurking in the weeds, just waiting for teams in the top five to drop off. They should be in line for another blowout win Saturday.

 

 

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