Teams that need to win out
The third tier of playoff hopefuls includes teams that need to win out, but would still be in if they did just that.
While Michigan lost badly in Madison, they are still Michigan. The rope that this team is given is something that most Iowa football fans cannot comprehend.
Despite the loss, Michigan would be in as a 12-1 team. For this to happen, they would beat the Iowa football team, Penn State, Notre Dame, Ohio S, ate and the West winner.
Everyone loves a redemption story and the media circus around this team would make it impossible not to include Michigan.
Down the road from Michigan is the second team in this tier, the Michigan State Spartans. Michigan State has the same basic blueprint as Michigan does, though their loss is not as bad as Michigan’s.
It is a very good thing for the Spartans since they are not given the same margin of error as their rivals in Ann Arbor. Just like Michigan, if Michigan State goes through the gauntlet of the B1G East unscaved, then win the Conference Championship Game, they are in the playoffs.
The next team in this tier is the 2015 Iowa football team. Sorry, I meant the Minnesota Gophers.
Minnesota has the soft schedule that Iowa had four years ago. As we learned in 2015, however, even a close loss in the B1G Championship Game won’t get you into the playoff.
Minnesota has no margin for error with their schedule. If they win out, the Gophers are the newest entrant to the College Football Playoff. If they lose, they will be in a New Year’s Six Bowl at best.
Another team that is in the CFP if they win out, but not if they drop another game, is the Nebraska Cornhuskers. I really want to put them in the ‘not going to happen’ category, but that would be dishonest.
If Nebraska finds a way to beat Ohio State* this weekend, they are ranked again. If they then beat Wisconsin, Iowa and the winner of the East, they will get the opportunity to return to the 1990s.
*No one wants this to happen.
Tier 3: #20 Michigan Wolverines, #25 Michigan State Spartans, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Nebraska Cornhuskers