When “The Game” kicks off Saturday in Columbus, Ohio, there will be more on the line than earning the favor of the College Football Playoff committee. The Michigan Wolverines (10-1, 7-1) will need a win against the Ohio State Buckeyes (10-1, 7-1) to keep pace with the Western Michigan Broncos (11-0, 7-0) as the top college football team in the state of Michigan.
Regardless of the outcome of Saturday’s contest, when the dust settles and the new CFP rankings are released next Tuesday, Michigan will be ranked higher than Western Michigan. But for those not easily swayed by the biased judgement levied from a committee dedicated to keeping football’s blue bloods as the only participants in a flawed and inaccurate postseason tournament trusted by few and accepted by many, WMU will have the inside track to supplant the Wolverines as state champion.
Western Michigan is undefeated. If you’ve found yourself on a Mid-American Conference focused blog, you likely already knew that. Michigan is not undefeated. The Wolverines hung with the Broncos until November 12th, when Jim Harbaugh’s squad was dealt a crippling road loss against the Iowa Hawkeyes, 14-13. A week later Michigan was again unimpressive, struggling to a 20-10 win against Indiana. Wolverines quarterback John O’Korn threw for just 59 yards, the lowest total for a UM signal caller in 15 years.
Western Michigan has had no such difficulties with its last two opponents. The Broncos became the nation’s first 10 win team when Jarvion Franklin and Fabian Johnson combined for 259 rushing yards against Kent State in a 37-21 win on November 8th. Last Saturday, WMU blasted Buffalo 38-0, sending a clear message that until they lose, they are Michigan’s top team.
There’s still work to be done for P.J. Fleck’s team, though. The Broncos host Toledo on Friday in what amounts to a MAC West championship game. A win and WMU rows the boat to Detroit for the Mid-American Conference title game on December 2nd. A loss and the Wolverines keep the crown as The Great Lakes State’s top team. I’ll allow it.
Western Michigan and Toledo kickoff from Waldo Stadium in Kalamazoo, Michigan at 5pm ET Friday.