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What Michigan’s win over Illinois means for Big Ten title, College Football Playoff

The Wolverines pull out a close one to remain undefeated heading into OSU game

Illinois v Michigan Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Michigan fans, breathe a sigh of relief — the Wolverines pulled it out in Ann Arbor in a nail-biter against Illinois, 19-17. It was touch-and-go for a while there in the second half, to say the least, but the No. 3 Michigan Wolverines remain undefeated heading into their banner matchup with Ohio State over Thanksgiving weekend. They will compete with the Buckeyes for the Big Ten East title.

The Wolverines still would have been in contention to win their division if they were to defeat the Buckeyes next week, but it would have put a great deal more pressure on that game. A loss to Illinois may have had more of an impact on Michigan’s College Football Playoff chances than a loss to OSU would.

With the win, Michigan remains a serious contender for one of the four coveted college football playoff spots. Even a close loss to Ohio State may not put them out entirely, though that’s for the committee to decide.

However, Michigan’s star running back, Blake Corum, was injured in the second quarter and was very limited in the second half against Illinois. Corum ran in Michigan’s only touchdown of the game on their first drive, and the Wolverines did not find the end zone for the rest of the game. If the Wolverines want to beat Ohio State next week and make it into the Big Ten Championship Game and the CFP, a healthy Corum is an absolute necessity.

Down 17-16 after Jake Moody’s third made field goal of the game, the Wolverines had a big stop to get the ball back with just under two and a half minutes left. A converted fourth down with under a minute left sent the Wolverines down the field, and a pass interference call on Illinois shortly after put them in field goal range, and Moody nailed his fourth. Michigan QB JJ McCarthy was 18-for-34 for 207 yards against the Illini.