Here's the deal: Michigan still has a shot at winning the Big Ten East, but to do it, the Wolverines need Michigan State to lose to Ohio State. The Wolverines and Spartans each have one conference loss this season. But Michigan's came against Michigan State, meaning the Spartans hold the tie-breaker.
Ohio State is perfect so far. But its last game of the regular season is against Michigan. If the Wolverines pull the upset, it would leapfrog the Buckeyes for the Big Ten East title because of the head-to-head win.
But only if Michigan State loses this week. If the Spartans upset the Buckeyes this week, all Michigan can hope for is second place in the division. Got it?
So you can understand the incentive when we say this loud and clear: Jim Harbaugh is rooting for the Buckeyes this weekend. He's rooting hard. And nothing he says should convince you otherwise.
In fairness, Harbaugh isn't outright denying it. In a weekly radio appearance, he refused to outright say he would cheer on Ohio State.
"What's best for Michigan is what I'll be [rooting] for," he said.
Coy. Diplomatic. Maybe even smart -- you can't let the Internet get hold of audio proving Michigan's coach once said he cheered on its bitter rival. Let Harbaugh play politician, but take one look at the conference standings and understand, without an ounce of doubt, that he'll be celebrating if the Buckeyes can hold off a hungry Spartans team.
Of course, Michigan has its own work to do: It plays Penn State this weekend. A loss to the Nittany Lions makes all of this irrelevant, and possibly turns Michigan State-Ohio State into a division title game of its own. The Wolverines are favored in their own game, but nothing's guaranteed.
Assuming they take care of business though, go ahead and mentally paint Harbaugh in scarlet and gray. Revel in his political correctness. And don't forget to mock those Wolverine fans in your life.