The Wolverine

October 2014

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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I magine the Big Ten not getting a single invitation to The Big Dance. You can't, because it will never happen. Basketball's three-week spring spectacle will always feature five, six, seven, even eight crews from around the league, looking for one shining moment after 10 weeks of black eyes and bloody noses. Then again, the NCAA Tournament features plenty of spots to fill. Not so, with college football's inaugural postseason party. Foot- ball begins at the Final Four, making those engraved invitations as coveted as a winning lottery ticket. The contrasts between The Big Dance and The Big Stomp are stark. Five teams have made the NCAA Tournament with 18 losses on their records. In the football fistfight, you're allowed one sorry Sat- urday at best. Lose two and you might as well buy tickets to watch the semifi- nals and national championship game. That's a guess, since the selection committee overseeing the whole busi- ness can choose whomever they deem worthy. But it says here, even glamor- ous and well-funded Southeastern Conference teams will face a tough time buying their way into this soiree with more than a single slipup. Three weeks in, 17 of the top 25 in the coaches' poll were undefeated. That included every team in the top 10: Florida State, Alabama, Oregon, Oklahoma, Auburn, Baylor, Texas A&M, LSU, Notre Dame and UCLA. That unbeaten group will get whittled down, week by week, but there could still be a handful of unbeatens steaming into the regular-season home stretch in Novem- ber. Right behind them, a host of one-loss squads will be pleading their cases. What does it mean for the Big Ten? Probably not good news, with regard to the col- lege football playoffs, year one. The second week of the season hit the conference's historical elite and up- start somebodies like the 3:10 to Yuma. Not only did Michigan get shut out by Notre Dame, Michigan State got left in the dust in Oregon, and Ohio State couldn't hang with Virginia Tech at home behind a new quarterback. Only two Big Ten teams — Penn State and Nebraska — survived the WOLVERINE WATCH   JOHN BORTON Big Ten Could Get Shut Out Of Playoff Michigan's loss to Notre Dame was one of several high-pro- file setbacks for the Big Ten early in the season. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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