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Will Michigan make the College Football Playoff even with a loss to Purdue?

We take a look at the Wolverines’ chances of making it into the playoff with a conference championship loss.

Michigan v Ohio State Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images

Update Dec. 3 4:15 p.m. The overtime loss by the TCU Horned Frogs in the Big 12 Championship makes it even more likely that Michigan is fine with a loss to Purdue. The Wolverines should feel safe no matter what happens today.

The No. 2 Michigan Wolverines face the Purdue Boilermakers in the Big Ten Conference Championship Game on Saturday, Dec. 3 as they attempt to keep their undefeated streak alive and coast into one of the four College Football Playoff spots. If all goes well for the Wolverines, it will be that easy. But what if Purdue does what Purdue does best and beats a No. 2 team when it matters most?

The Boilermakers have beaten a second-ranked team as an unranked team nine times in the AP Poll era, and they enter this game unranked. Their most recent season-ruiner occurred in 2021, when they took down Iowa. Michigan has not yet faced Purdue this season in Big Ten play. If Michigan loses to Purdue in the conference championship on Saturday, will they still be able to get a CFP bid?

Their best win was a huge victory over a top-ranked, undefeated Ohio State team last week. Winning in such a decisive fashion certainly helps their case. Very few undefeated teams remain — in fact, so few that the CFP is guaranteed to include a team with at least one loss.

So a single loss doesn’t eliminate them from contention, but it does make that last spot more stressful. If USC, TCU, and Georgia all win their conference championships and Michigan loses, the Wolverines should still get that fourth spot. A loss from TCU or USC effectively guarantees Michigan a spot in the final four with their win over Ohio State, whether or not they end up as Big Ten champions.

However, there is one scenario in which their spot could be seriously threatened. If TCU and USC both win, Michigan loses, and LSU beats Georgia in the SEC Championship, the Wolverines will be fighting with the Tigers and the Bulldogs for that final spot. It’s hard to say what the committee would decide in that moment, but they have put two SEC teams in in the past, and could make that call again.