Michigan has lost two of its last three games after residing in the top five for pretty much all season. While conventional wisdom says that the Wolverines have no shot at the playoff – especially after losing 30-27 at Ohio State in double overtime in what was essentially a play-in game – Jerry Palm isn’t so sure.
“No, they’re not (out of the playoff disucssion),” the CBSSports.com college football insider said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “Obviously they don’t control things anymore. They’re done playing. But I think Michigan could be fourth this week, but they would need Clemson or Washington to lose to have a shot. Even if they’re ahead of Washington this week, they’re not going to be ahead of Washington next week if Washington beats Colorado. That’s just not going to happen. But for Michigan, there’s no way to justify Michigan being behind Penn State or Colorado if those teams win next week.”
That’s because Michigan beat Colorado and Penn State in back-to-back weeks in September by a combined 56 points.
“Wisconsin is a little tougher call because the game they played with Wisconsin was close and at Michigan,” Palm said. “So if Wisconsin wins the Big Ten and they’re sitting there at 11-2 and they played Michigan competitively in Ann Arbor, I think you can justify either way Wisconsin ahead of Michigan or the other way around. But with Penn State or Colorado, I just don’t see how Michigan could be behind either of those teams regardless. So Michigan’s got a shot. Michigan’s got a shot, but they’re going to need help.”
Penn State (10-2), meanwhile, can win its ninth straight game this Saturday in the Big Ten Championship. That’s fine. Palm still wouldn’t put the Nittany Lions in the playoff. Not without a whole lot of help, anyway.
“They can win the game, but they can’t get into the playoff unless both Clemson and Washington lose,” he said. “I know they beat Ohio State, but they also lost to Pittsburgh. That’s the problem. They’ve got two losses. They got blown out at Michigan, they lost to Pittsburgh – and I realize they weren’t 100 percent in either of those games, but that doesn’t really matter that much.”
Palm added that Ohio State, despite losing to Penn State and not winning its own division, is more or less a lock for the playoff.
“Ohio State belongs in,” he said. “If you look at what Ohio State did this year, they’re sitting at 11-1. They’ve got four games against teams that are going to be in the top nine of this week’s rankings – maybe eight – and they played three of those four games on the road. They’re 3-1 against those teams. Nobody can match what Ohio State has done against the top of their schedule this season. They belong in the playoffs.”