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Can Michigan and Ohio State both make the CFP?

The two undefeated Big Ten teams face off in Columbus next weekend. Is the path wide enough for both of them?

Illinois v Michigan Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images

The Michigan Wolverines and Ohio State Buckeyes both escaped nail-biters against Big Ten opponents in Week 12. Michigan came down to the line against Illinois while Ohio State was able to stop a final drive from a Maryland team that just wouldn’t quit. So it’s looking like we’ll get No. 2 vs. No. 3 on Thanksgiving weekend, two of the best teams of the country coming in without a loss this season.

Both of their College Football Playoff hopes lay on the line of that game — but is there a way that both teams can make it when only one can win, especially with a loss that late in the season? The short answer is yes — this scenario is unique. How many other undefeated teams have to face that kind of opponent this late in the season?

A blowout either way would likely result in the winner being the sole Big Ten representative selected by the committee. But a close game — say, within one score — leaves the path open wide enough for the two of them.

What has to happen to get them there? A TCU loss could possibly send them both in, as we’ve already seen the committee’s bias against the Frogs before reluctantly giving them the fourth spot as of now. Also Tennessee might have to lose to either South Carolina or Vanderbilt to open up that potential spot, and while neither of those scenarios seem likely, we can’t rule them out entirely.

If TCU wins out and Tennessee wins out, the committee finds itself in a conundrum that I do not envy. To put in a Vols team that was beat down by No. 1 Georgia, or a Michigan or Ohio State team that lost in a close game to the other? No matter what choice they make, it will be a controversial decision.

And if LSU beats Georgia in the SEC Championship, Michigan-OSU is a close game, and TCU and Tennessee win out? Well, I really don’t envy that decision. All of those teams have legitimate claims to a CFP spot in that scenario, and it’s up to the committee at that point.