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Fox Sports: UM-Wisconsin could shape playoff race

The Detroit News

There appears to be little doubt that Michigan will play in some big football games this season, even outside of its bitter grudge match with Ohio State.

Fox Sports last week called Michigan’s season opener against Florida in Arlington, Texas one of the 11 “must-watch” nonconference games of the season. On Monday, Sports Illustrated called Michigan’s game Oct. 21 against Penn State a “pivot-point” game in which the season could hinge for both teams.

On Tuesday, Fox Sports put a spotlight on another game on the Wolverines’ schedule, calling their Nov. 18 game at Wisconsin one of eight conference games in the country that could shape the College Football Playoff race.

Only, this time, Aaron Torres of Fox Sports takes it from the Badgers’ point of view.

“While the immediate assumption here is to focus on Michigan, let’s instead look at the Badgers,” writes Torres, who ranked the game seventh on the list. “A victory here might not only push Wisconsin closer to another Big Ten West title, but — as crazy as it sounds — a playoff berth as well.”

SI: UM-Penn State one of 13 ‘pivot-point’ games for ’17

Torres writes that, after a brutal schedule last season in which Wisconsin faced several top 10 teams (LSU, Michigan and Ohio State among them), the Badgers will miss out on a few Big Ten East heavyweights this fall in Ohio State and Penn State.

“Outside of a trip to Nebraska in early October, Wisconsin could be favored in every game they play,” Torres writes. “The Badgers could also be undefeated coming into this one.

“Even if they aren’t undefeated, the Michigan game could determine not only the Badgers’ division hopes, but whether they might be playing for a College Football Playoff berth in the Big Ten title game.”

Michigan won last year’s game in Ann Arbor, 14-7.

Ohio State’s home game against Penn State on Oct. 28 checked in at No. 5, with Torres calling it a matchup of “unquestionably the two best teams (in the Big Ten East) on paper entering the season.”

The Michigan-Ohio State game Nov. 18 did not make the list.