Ohio State vs. Michigan: If Michigan Wins, Does Big Ten Deserve Second BCS Berth

Dan Vasta@CI_StatsGuruSenior Writer IIINovember 25, 2011

CHAMPAIGN, IL - NOVEMBER 12: Head coach Brady Hoke of the Michigan Wolverines watches as his team takes on the Illinois Fighting Illini at Memorial Stadium on November 12, 2011 in Champaign, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

If Brady Hoke (or Fred Flinstone, John Belushi or Norm from Cheers) can come in and win 10 ballgames during the regular season in which many doubted if he could even win nine including their bowl games, wouldn't his team deserve a BCS Bowl?

Well, maybe not necessarily for that reason, but there are many other reasons why they deserve to be playing in a prestigious BCS Bowl this New Year. 

First off, the Wolverines are the winningest program of all-time, and they travel as well as any team in the entire country (arguably).

Denard Robinson and the Maize & Blue nation are quite the thrill to watch when they are clicking on all cylinders. They are playing much better ball since their loss to Iowa, mainly because Denard Robinson has received help from running back Fitzgerald Toussaint.

They have now won two games in a row by a combined score of 76-31. Speaking of dominating, that is exactly what the Big Ten has been in terms of BCS appearances.

They currently have the most of any conference in America (23 compared to the SEC's 21), and they have been accustomed to receiving two per season. 

In fact, it has been six straight seasons in which the Big Ten has had two teams play in the BCS. So to try to argue that they don't deserve it is pointless. The BCS has made it clear that the Big Ten is worthy (I agree in terms of the top B10 teams), and nothing will change their minds.

The Wolverines must, of course, knock off a Buckeyes team that has defeated them for seven straight seasons. Lloyd Carr and Rich Rodriguez have not been able to find an answer for the darn good Buckeyes, and yet here comes Brady Hoke just clapping his way on the sidelines and enjoying the game like any fan would.

He has an excellent chance at dethroning the Buckeyes ownage of an era that looks to be long gone with a victory on Saturday in Ann Arbor. 

After all, Denard Robinson has worn Superman's cape a few times before, but it is the players around him that have really helped him out when need be this season. 

Though Robinson still leads the team in rushing yards (993) and touchdowns (14), Fitzgerald Toussaint (891 & nine TDs) has been rumbling his way to the third level in recent weeks. 

They have some solid depth, with Vincent Smith, Stephen Hopkins and Michael Shaw, and they also have Devin Gardner running it once in a while.

Stretching the field has not been an issue for a very skilled receiving corps led by Junior Hemingway, Jeremy Gallon, Roy Roundtree and Kevin Kroger (tight end).

The four are the main targets for Robinson, and they should be the matchups to look for against a solid Buckeyes secondary that ranks 16th in the country against the pass (188 YPG).

This BCS-worthy squad is not lacking talent on offense or the defensive side of the ball. It sounds weird to say, but this team is where they are because of the defense.

Mike Martin has been a superstar in the Big Ten, and is far and away their best defender overall. He receives constant double teams, yet has still produced 5.5 tackles for loss and three sacks (fourth-leading tackler).

His play has allowed a few of his linebackers to tee off on opposing running backs. Kenny Demens came in with some high expectations this season, and he answered the bell with a team-leading 78 tackles. Thomas Gordon and freshman Desmond Morgan have been solid as well up front for a vastly underrated defense.

Comparing this Michigan to the other possible at-large bids is not that tough to do, despite their two losses. Houston, of course, is undefeated at the moment (with remaining games against Tulsa on road and a possible C-USA Title) and Stanford must knock off Notre Dame still.

Outside of those two teams, the only other realistic possibility would be Boise State. The loser of the Oklahoma State-Oklahoma game would almost have no shot of getting the call over a Wolverines squad that may be destined to get back to greatness.


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