Two weeks ago, it was “big news” to think that the Michigan Wolverines had even a glimmer of hope to reach the four-team College Football Playoff. A projection from Five Thirty-Eight gave Jim Harbaugh’s team a 7% chance to vault into the top four, and with that came a 1% hope of bringing the national championship back to Ann Arbor.
Since then, Michigan has won two games, including an impressive road victory at Penn State and, well, those victories did not help the Wolverines. This week’s projection from Jay Boice, Andrew Flowers and Reuben Fischer-Baum of Five Thirty-Eight is very kind to Michigan State, who jumped into the top four after an upset road win over Ohio State, but it is far less forgiving to their in-state rival. Michigan is given a 6% chance to reach the playoff and a sub-1% chance to win the title, with both representing a decrease from previous iterations.
This is rough news for Michigan fans, especially due to the fact that it was a failure from arch rival Ohio State that left the Wolverines in this position. A huge part of the slip in likelihood is due to the fact that it is now, unquestionably, more difficult for the Wolverines to reach the Big Ten Championship Game, as Michigan will be reliant on a Penn State upset over Michigan State to have even a chance to end up in Indianapolis.
Projections like these are (always) an inexact science, but part of the faint optimism enjoyed by Michigan fans has slipped away despite positive on-field performance.