I don’t know what most of the people in Ann Arbor did on a beautiful fall Saturday without Michigan football to watch, but I had a pretty nice day planned out, and it didn’t even involve a trip to Home Depot or Bed, Bath & Beyond.

Roshan Reddy

You see, because my plans to attend all the Wolverines’ games this season – home and away – fell apart due to a couple ill-timed midterms, I figured one small way to redeem myself was to watch the Wisconsin-Penn State game.

But by halftime, the Nittany Lions were up 21-0 and I was certain of two things: 1) I had absolutely no desire to watch the second half, and 2) The Wolverines’ conference title and BCS bid hopes were still alive. (Repeat after me – Michigan over Indiana and Iowa over Wisconsin this Saturday, Michigan over Ohio State and Michigan State over Penn State the Saturday after – )

Of course, only about four hours had passed before I was back in front of the television again. This time, wandering from channel to channel, I was shocked when I discovered that two unbeaten teams, Virginia Tech and UCLA, were getting blown out by Miami and Arizona.

I (and most other college football fans I figure) was disappointed by the two results. First of all, in today’s college football, unless you’re Notre Dame, if you have even one loss nobody pays any attention to you. And UCLA’s loss severely squashes the hype that will lead to its game against No. 1 Southern Cal in four weeks.

But not everybody was disappointed by Saturday’s results. The people who run college football – whoever they are – were ecstatic to see the Hokies and Bruins fall. Great, they’re telling themselves, now we just need Alabama to lose, and then we’ve got the Texas-USC championship we all want.

With a brand-new poll and all those wacky computer rankings, these conference and bowl game presidents have lost all control and have to pray for the season to end with two – and just two – unbeaten teams. This year, they might just get lucky. But they didn’t last year when Auburn and Utah finished undefeated, or the year before when No. 1 Southern Cal was excluded from the National Championship game.

Of course, life in the Big Ten isn’t much different. Like the college football rulers rooting for the undefeated to crumble, Michigan fans are now rooting against Wisconsin and Penn State. In fact, it’s not hard to imagine 110,000 people in Michigan Stadium this Saturday checking for Iowa-Wisconsin score updates every couple minutes and not even paying attention to the game in front of them (Though it is understandable – after all, Michigan will be playing Indiana.). And if the Wolverines pull it out, the same thing could happen the following week for the Michigan State-Penn State game, which would be a shame considering they’ll be playing Ohio-freakin’ State.

It’s still pretty unlikely Michigan is headed to the Fiesta, Orange or Sugar bowls, but if the Wolverines beat Indiana and especially Ohio State the next two weeks, where they are spending their winter break shouldn’t mar the season as a whole. Sure, we could all look back to that third-down run against Minnesota, but we could also talk about how the Wolverines recovered from the injuries to Mike Hart, the safeties and offensive linemen, bounced back from early struggles and gutted out close wins. Of course, that’s if they beat Ohio State.

Because the bowl system is so ridiculous these days, I’m just going to stop worrying about who could play whom, and wait until we all know who will play whom. Maybe all the Michigan athletes I’ve talked to the last couple years – the ones who love to make use of what they learned in Sports Cliches 101 – are right after all. It’s useless worrying about what you can’t control.

Sharad Mattu can be reached at smattu@umich.edu.

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