Despite a slow start to the season, the Michigan Wolverines are still in control of their own destiny when it comes to winning the Big Ten championship. Depending on how they fare against the top competition in the Big Ten, they could wind up representing the conference in the Rose Bowl.
Brady Hoke's team experienced a free fall from the Top 25 thanks to early losses to Alabama and Notre Dame, but those losses could very well prepare the Wolverines for the premier matchups that they will see as Big Ten conference play really begins to heat up in the coming weeks.
With a 44-13 rout of the Purdue Boilermakers, Michigan has pronounced itself as a favorite in the Legends Division once again. As the Wolverines look ahead, here are the biggest games remaining on the schedule that will determine if Michigan comes out smelling like "Roses" or spends December preparing for the Heart of Dallas Bowl.
To the fans, the Michigan State-Michigan game is always huge, but the game holds a ton of conference implications for the Wolverines this season.
The Spartans already lost a heartbreaker to Ohio State in Week 5 so the Wolverines could not only improve their chances of winning the division, but they could put the Spartans two games back from the lead.
Considering the Wolverines' defensive woes against the big, physical running game of Alabama early in the season, the game against the Spartans will give the Michigan defense an opportunity to show how much they have improved.
If the Wolverines can find a way to beat the Spartans in the Big House, the rest of the conference will have to sit up and take notice.
The only time the Wolverines have been tested on the road this season was when they traveled to South Bend to play the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. That didn't go so well for Denard Robinson and Co. as they were stonewalled against an aggressive Irish defense that paved the way for a disappointing 13-6 loss.
Michigan dominated Nebraska last season in Ann Arbor as the Wolverines easily beat the Huskers, 45-17, but that won't be as easy with the game taking place in Lincoln.
If Michigan can top Taylor Martinez and Nebraska again, it'll be in the driver's seat in the Legends Division for the rest of the year.
At Ohio State
The biggest game of any season for the Wolverines is the season finale against "Ohio," but with the Buckeyes left with nothing to play for thanks to NCAA sanctions, this game takes on new meaning.
Aside from the rivalry implications, Ohio State may be the best team in the Big Ten. The conference is short of teams without a weakness, and the Buckeyes have yet to be exposed while largely taking on cream puffs.
If the Buckeyes manage to go undefeated leading up to this game, this could easily be the biggest game in the entire country in the final week.
Last season's game was another epic chapter in the rivalry. With another year under Braxton Miller's belt and Denard Robinson going for one last shot against the Buckeyes, this one should be even better.