Monday, November 21, 2016

The 2016 edition of Michigan-Ohio State shows why the regular season remains important

                                     Photo Credit: Andrew Mascharka

For fans craving expansion to the current College Football Playoff format, Saturday's No. 3 Michigan-No. 2 Ohio State game serves as a reason why the regular season remains important.

The College Football regular season serves as de facto elimination games, especially as we get to rivalry week.

In Michigan's case, it will have to conquer Ohio State in order to get to Indianapolis to the Big Ten Championship, which will then serve as a de facto Elite Eight game against Wisconsin or Nebraska. 

Both wins will likely be needed if the Wolverines are to have visions of playing in the CFP semifinals on New Year's Eve.

In order for Michigan's dream to become reality, it must first overcome Ohio State, a team that has dominated with 11 of the last 12 wins in the series. Michigan's last road win at Ohio State came in 2000 (38-26), with Drew Henson at quarterback.

Michigan-Ohio State final scores since 2004:


2004: OHIO STATE 37, Michigan 21
2005: Ohio State 25, MICHIGAN 21
2006: OHIO STATE 42, Michigan 39
2007: Ohio State 14, MICHIGAN 3
2008: OHIO STATE 42, Michigan 7
2009: Ohio State 21, MICHIGAN 10
2010: OHIO STATE 37, Michigan 7
2011: MICHIGAN 40, Ohio State 34
2012: OHIO STATE 26, Michigan 21
2013: Ohio State 42, MICHIGAN 41
2014: OHIO STATE 42, Michigan 28
2015: Ohio State 42, MICHIGAN 13

Ohio State's situation serves as the best and worst of both worlds. A win over Michigan will likely clinch a spot into the semifinals, but at the same time knock them out of the Big Ten East division race. 

A Penn State win over Michigan State would give them the tiebreak  because of 24-21 win over Ohio State on Oct. 22. 

Despite the possibilities, Ohio State would likely retain its top 4 spot, as it would own key wins at Oklahoma, Wisconsin and at home against Michigan.

The consolation prizes for both teams would not be the worst scenario as the first Big Ten team left out of the playoff would be ticketed to Pasadena to play in the Rose Bowl Game, where a combination of USC, Washington and Colorado could represent the Pac-12 as the opponent.

The Big Ten also has a tie-in to the Orange Bowl Game, where Louisville from the ACC could be the draw, given its elimination from the conference title picture with Clemson's win at Wake Forest on Nov. 19.

As big as the No. 1 vs No. 2 matchup in 2006 was in terms of stakes, the 2016 edition of Michigan-Ohio State could be the most important game of the series with all of the endless possibilities on the line.

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