Michigan Football: Big Ten Clashes That Will Determine Wolverines' BCS Fate

Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent IOctober 8, 2012

October 6, 2012; West Lafayette, IN, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Brady Hoke before the game against the Purdue Boilermakers at Ross Ade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sandra Dukes-US PRESSWIRE

Before you go calling the Michigan Wolverines overrated, realize that they are undefeated in conference play and tied atop the Big Ten Legends Division.

After an impressive road win over Purdue in Week 6, Brady Hoke's Wolverines are a few conference wins away from earning a trip to the Big Ten Championship Game and perhaps a BCS bowl berth for the second straight year. 

The Wolverines finished 10-2 in 2011, and they can finish with the same record in 2012 if they can reel off seven more victories this fall.

Here we highlight some can't-miss Big Ten clashes that will determine Michigan's BCS fate this winter.

October 27: At Nebraska

Although the Nebraska Cornhuskers are 4-2 through the first half of the season, it's important to note their two losses have come on the road. Meanwhile, their four wins have come at home.

Unfortunately for Michigan, it will have to beat Nebraska at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln in order to remain perfect in the Big Ten.

It will surely be a tall task for Brady Hoke's squad, especially considering that the Wolverines are just 1-2 outside of Ann Arbor this season.

Michigan annihilated Nebraska at home last season, winning 45-17 in front of a sea of Big Blue supporters. That embarrassing defeat is likely fresh in the minds of the Cornhuskers players and fans, who will let the Wolverines hear it come opening kickoff on October 27.

This game has added importance because both teams will be gunning to win the Legends Division.

November 10: vs. Northwestern

The Wolverines have four home conference games left to play this season, but none will be more challenging than on November 10 against the Northwestern Wildcats. The under-the-radar Big Ten program got off to a scorching start this season, winning its first five games. 

Northwestern will test Greg Mattison's Michigan defense with a rushing attack, led by Venric Mark, that is ranked 16th in the nation. Mark is averaging 5.4 yards per carry this season and boasts more than 600 yards and six touchdowns on the ground.

The Wildcats are averaging over 230 rushing yards per week. They will look to dominate time of possession and keep Denard Robinson on the sideline in order to sneak out of Ann Arbor with a hard-fought road victory.

Northwestern won at Michigan in 2008, the last time the two teams met at Michigan Stadium. The Wildcats escaped with a 21-14 win, which could very well be the case on November 10.

November 24: At Ohio State

Michigan knocked off bitter rival Ohio State for the first time since 2003 last season, but will have to take down a much more formidable version of the Buckeyes on the road in their regular season finale on November 24.

Urban Meyer's Buckeyes are 6-0 through the first half of the season, and are outscoring their opponents by 18 points per game on average. 

Ohio State is led by sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller, who is making a Heisman case with his play through the first half of the year. Miller has over 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns through the air in 2012, and more than 700 yards and eight touchdowns rushing. 

The Wolverines could be the last piece to a perfect puzzle for Ohio State this fall, who could be 11-0 coming into the season finale. 

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