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Michigan Football: Projecting Wolverines' Outlook for Remainder of 2012

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Michigan Football: Projecting Wolverines' Outlook for Remainder of 2012
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Given the way the first four weeks of he season went for the Michigan Wolverines, where they're standing looks pretty good right about now.

No, they're not in the top 10 anymore—that's what three losses, and two to top-15 teams, will do for you—but at No. 21 in the BCS standings and with at least one more chance for a big win before the bowls are determined, the Wolverines still have a shot at making something happen. 

It will take some good fortune, but it could happen. 

The first item on the agenda, though, is making sure that they don't overlook Saturday's game against Iowa because they're too busy thinking about the ways to beat undefeated Ohio State in the regular-season finale.

Iowa is not a gimme game. The Hawkeyes don't have a lot to play for in the remainder of the 2012 season, but they do have a shot at playing spoiler to both Michigan and Nebraska over the next couple of weeks. Whether or not they can actually take down a ranked opponent remains to be seen, but this was a team that knocked off Michigan State in overtime back on Oct. 13 and only lost to Indiana and Purdue by three points each.

Should Michigan win this game? Yes. But Iowa will put up a fight. 

After that comes the big one: Ohio State. This is the game that has been circled on fans' calendars since the summer. A loss to Ohio State—or Iowa—would be perilous to the Wolverines because it would seriously compromise their odds of making it to the Big Ten championship. But a win over Ohio State could pay off big for Michigan.

Ohio State is an excellent team. It may not be ranked in the BCS standings and it may not be eligible for the conference championship because of NCAA sanctions, but beating an unbeaten—even an unranked one—looks pretty good on your resume. The Buckeyes average 39.9 points per game and will not go down easy, especially at home, when perfection is on the line.

But Ohio State is a must-win for for Michigan, as is Iowa. Even if Michigan wins out, it is still going to require a bit of luck to make it to the Big Ten championship. A loss to Nebraska on Oct. 27 really hurt the Wolverines, who now need the Cornhuskers to lose one of their two remaining conference games—against 6-4 Minnesota or against 4-6 Iowa—in order to get the Legends Division's berth. Nebraska and Michigan are currently tied in the division standings, but Nebraska holds the tiebreaker.

But as Wolverines head coach Brady Hoke told the Detroit Free Press' Mark Snyder, there's no use thinking about things you can't control:

You want to be able to control things that you can do, but we do control what we can do, and that's why Iowa is so significant. … I never hear anything but who's next, who the opponent is. I think they know we've got to take care of ourselves. To achieve greatness, you've got to put yourself in position. You've got to take care of your business to do that.

Michigan can't think about luck right now. Right now, it's all about Iowa. And after that, it's all about Ohio State. Then, they'll see what happens.

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