With two losses, Michigan can kiss any lingering hope of a national-title shot goodbye.
That's no reason to fret for Michigan fans, however, as a national title was never a real possibility anyway, this season.
The Wolverines still have the ability to achieve their season goals and make it to a Bowl Championship Series game. The Rose Bowl is not out of reach, and Michigan has a real shot to make it there.
How, you ask? Win the conference. Simple as that. The winner of the Big Ten gets an automatic berth to a BCS bowl game, with the Rose Bowl as preference.
Now that's no easy task, but it is certainly attainable, and Michigan started conference play on the right foot by dominating Purdue 44-13 on the road.
Michigan's offense is explosive, averaging 31.6 points per game, including the beat downs against top-flight defenses of Alabama and Notre Dame.
Big Blue will have to ride Denard "Shoelace" Robinson for all he's worth to make it there—and thus far he hasn't had a problem with it. Shoelace ran for a face-melting 235 yards at Purdue, scoring once on the ground and adding 105 yards and a score through the air.
Big Ten competition will stiffen as the season wears on, and bitter rivalries will take their toll, but the Wolverines will only go as far as Robinson takes them, on his arm and on his feet.
He's thrown an unacceptable eight interceptions on the season to this point, and if he doesn't buck that trend sooner rather than later, Michigan can kiss this season goodbye.
Michigan's next test comes at home this Saturday against Illinois. That might be one of the easiest matchups left on the season. They'll be at home, and Illinois' defense is nowhere near the unit it was last season.
With the Fighting Illini having given up 11 rushing touchdowns on the season already, Robinson should have no problem exploiting their week run defense.
Following that game, Big Blue hosts state rival Michigan State.
While State's offense isn't as explosive as Michigan's, their defense is 15th in the nation for points allowed. They gave Ohio State a run for their money, but ended up losing the affair 17-16.
Home-field advantage will go a long way, but if Michigan can take care of business in their own back yard, they'll have beaten one of the tougher teams left on the schedule.
The make-or-break game could be at the end of the season, when they travel to Ohio State. Urban Meyer has the Buckeyes playing inspired football, and despite their ineligibility this season, they would like nothing more than to beat Michigan in front of a home crowd to cap off their season in ascendancy.
If Michigan wins that game, and doesn't drop games to the likes of Nebraska, Northwestern, Iowa and Minnesota, they will no doubt have earned the right to play in the Rose Bowl.
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