Michigan Football: New Year’s Day Bowl likely for Wolverines


As shocking as the recent loss to Michigan State was, the real killer was that it most likely knocked Michigan out of the Big Ten race.

For the Wolverines to have a shot at the Eastern Division crown, they would have to win their final four games, while Ohio State, Michigan State and Penn State would have to crumble.

Michigan can still make coach Jim Harbaugh’s first season a success by knocking off the Buckeyes and landing in a New Year’s Day Bowl Game. Harbaugh, however, wouldn’t be the first Michigan coach to beat Ohio State in his initial season.

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Where will Michigan play?

Bump Elliott did it in 1959, Bo Schembechler accomplished it in 1969, Lloyd Carr did it in 1995 and Brady Hoke did it in 2011.

This year’s U-M squad should finish the regular season either 10-2 (doubtful), 9-3 (likely) or 8-4 (debatable).

The Big Ten has an agreement with several bowl games, the top prize being the national semifinal. Next come the Rose and Peach Bowls, followed by the Outback, Citrus, Foster Farms and Holiday Bowls.

Michigan travels well

Michigan, which has always been a favorite of bowl committees (U-M travels well and has a top “brand” name), will finish the Big Ten season from the fourth to sixth position, most likely behind the Buckeyes, Spartans and Hawkeyes.

Even if the Wolverines finish 8-4, they will most likely get invited to either the Citrus or Outback Bowls, which are both played on New Year’s Day. Since the Big Ten and SEC are paired against other this year, look for Georgia, Ole Miss or Florida to be U-M’s opponent.

The Wolverines have played in the Outback five times and Citrus four. The last two Michigan victories were over Florida in the 2008 Citrus (Capital One) Bowl and over Virginia Tech in the 2012 Sugar Bowl.

Should the Wolverines suffer a hiccup or two down the stretch, they will practically be guaranteed a spot in either the Foster Farms Bowl Dec. 26 in Santa Clara, CA, or the Holiday Bowl Dec. 30 in San Diego, CA.

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Big Ten Pecking Order and Predictions:

National Semifinal (Cotton), Dec. 31, Arlington, TX: OSU/MSU/Iowa

Peach, Dec. 31, Atlanta, GA: OSU/MSU/Iowa

Rose, Jan. 1, Pasadena, CA: OSU/MSU/Iowa

Citrus, Jan. 1, Orlando, FL: Michigan

Outback, Jan. 1, Tampa, FL: Wisconsin

Foster Farms, Dec. 26, Santa Clara, CA, Penn State

Holiday, Dec. 30, San Diego, CA, Northwestern