With the Wolverines' big win over OSU, most Michigan fans probably feel that their team wrapped up a sure BCS berth.
After all, with a 10-2 record and nobody in the BCS at-large pool that can possibly trump the Wolverines in terms of prestige, traveling reputation or national interest, the Sugar or Fiesta Bowl is all but locked up.
First of all, the BCS at-large pool needs a bit of explanation.
According to the BCS contract, at-large participants have to win at least nine games and have to be ranked amongst the top 14 teams in the final BCS standings.
The Wolverines have won the requisite nine games.
However, they are currently No. 16 in the BCS standings, and thus out of the BCS at-large pool.
Needless to say, that pool will change after next week's action, but specific teams have to lose in order for Michigan to find its way into the top 14.
Firstly, the Wolverines will gain one spot due to the Big Ten title game between Michigan State—currently No. 13—and Wisconsin—currently No. 15. The loser of the game will drop below Michigan, thereby automatically moving UM up one spot.
Secondly, a Houston loss in the Conference USA Championship Game would help, as there is no way a one-loss Cougar team would stay in the top 15 given their cakewalk of a schedule.
Also, an Oklahoma State win over Oklahoma will help.
If the No. 3 Cowboys lose to the Sooners, they'll probably drop four-six spots. That would leave them in the top 10, which wouldn't help Michigan at all. On the other hand, a loss by No. 9 Oklahoma would likely push the Sooners out to around No. 15, at which point the Wolverines would catapult them.
Thirdly, LSU needs to beat Georgia—No. 14—in the SEC Championship Game. A Bulldog win would vault them up in the standings, but wouldn't move LSU down nearly enough to leave the top five (let alone the top two). On the other hand, a Dawg loss would drop them to the high teens, which would move Michigan up one.
Finally, an Oregon loss to UCLA in the Pac-12 championship would also be in Michigan's best interest, but that is too long a shot to bother considering.
Nevertheless, here is where it gets tricky.
Baylor is currently ranked No. 17. In other words, the Bears are right behind Michigan.
BU finishes out its season with a home game against Texas, which is 7-4 and currently ranked No. 22.
If the Bears win that game, they could gain points over the Wolverines, which would catapult them in the BCS standings, thereby leaving UM on the outside of the top 14.
Would Baylor then receive a BCS bowl berth?
Absolutely not, but as Michigan would not be eligible for a BCS bowl game, Baylor's status only matters insofar as it keeps the Wolverines out of the top 14.
Of course, if UM does squeeze its way into the top 14 the Wolverines would probably be the first at-large choice of whichever bowl has first choice.
In short, Michigan needs two of the following five teams to lose: Houston, Georgia, Oklahoma, Oregon and Baylor.
Luckily, the odds are in the Wolverines' favor, as Georgia and Oklahoma are both underdogs.
Nonetheless, just in case things don't go their way, Michigan fans might want to reserve rooms in Orlando for the Capital One Bowl.