The last time Michigan won a national championship, Jay Feely was the kicker. The 40-year-old played for the Wolverines from 1995 to 1998, and he was in Columbus on Saturday for The Game, which Ohio State won, 39-27, in double overtime.
“I think they had their opportunities in that game,” Feely, a CBS Sports NFL and college football analyst, said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney, referring to his alma mater. “They had two interceptions, one returned for a touchdown. They fumble at the 1-yard line. You can’t do that and win a game at Ohio State. And even though they did all that, they had an opportunity on fourth down to stop them. I still think they did.”
Feely, of course, is referring to a controversial call involving J.T. Barrett, who converted a 4th-and-1 in the second overtime. Curtis Samuel scored the game-winning touchdown on the very next play, but many Michigan fans believe Barrett was stopped short of the first-down mark.
Still, that isn’t why the Wolverines lost the game.
“(It’s) their fault for being in this situation,” he said. “Had they beat Iowa, even if they lose to Ohio State, they’re going to get in.
As of now, Feely believes that Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson and Washington will be in the playoff. He would not put two-loss Wisconsin in even if the Badgers beat Penn State in the Big Ten Championship.
“Boy, it’s such a hard decision,” he said. “Michigan beat Wisconsin, but it was a tight game. Michigan beat Penn State by (39), but Penn State beat Ohio State and Wisconsin lost to Ohio State and Michigan. So how do you put a team ahead of Ohio State and Michigan that lost to both of those teams, that, objectively, you look at them and you say, ‘They’re probably not as good as either of those teams’?”
Feely believes that Washington, if victorious against Colorado, deserves to make the playoff.
“They’d deserve to be in,” he said. “If they win the Pac 12 championship, they deserve to be in. If you look at Colorado, they took Michigan to the brink. They were up big in the first half against Michigan and everybody thought it was a terrible game for Michigan at the time, and then you see what Colorado did throughout the year. That’s a pretty good team. I think if Washington wins, they’d deserve to be in there. Then you’re going to have Clemson, Alabama and Ohio State. That’ll be your final four. But if Washington loses, it’s chaos.”
Feely added that even if Penn State wins the Big Ten, he would not put the Nittany Lions in over Ohio State, even though they beat the Buckeyes, 24-21, in October.
“I don’t care,” Feely said. “You have two losses. You can’t get rid of a one-loss Ohio State team that deserves to be there, that had a tough loss to Penn State. You’re going to put a two-loss Penn State team in front of a one-loss Ohio State team that beat Michigan? I wouldn’t.”
The Nittany Lions (10-2) have won eight straight games. They’ve won their last five by an average of 30.2 points.
“They’re on the upswing, no question,” Feely said. “It’ll be chaos. It really will. It’ll be really interesting. This is why you should have eight teams. This is why you should have an eight-team field. You go and you play it out form there because you would have all these teams in and maybe a Western Michigan gets in there and you have a Cinderella and you see what happens. I always wanted to have eight teams and to have the opportunity for the little guy to go in there, who goes undefeated. Everybody thinks, ‘Well, they’re not that good.’ I’ve done Western Michigan five times in the last two years. They have a ton of NFL talent. They have the best receiver (Corey Davis) in the country. They have (an offensive lineman, Taylor Moton), who’s going to be in the first round probably. They have two really good running backs (Jarvion Franklin and Jamauri Bogan). So if they get in the Cotton Bowl, watch out. They could win that Cotton Bowl.”