Wisconsin (10-0) has gone from No. 9 to No. 8 to No. 5 in three weeks of the College Football Playoff rankings. They’ve gone from being ranked behind six one-loss teams to being ranked behind four one-loss teams to being ranked behind two one-loss teams. The Badgers are absolutely knocking on the playoff door.
But they have no margin for error.
“What (is holding them back) is their beginning-of-the-season, out-of-conference schedule,” College Football Playoff Podcast host TJ Rives said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “Utah State, Florida Atlantic – which is actually looking a little better because Florida Atlantic looks like they’re going to win their division and play in the Conference USA Championship. But the three games for Wisconsin are Utah State, Florida Atlantic and at BYU, who’s bad.”
Wisconsin beat BYU and Utah State by a combined 99-16. BYU is 3-8. Utah State is 5-5.
Those showdowns don’t exactly scream Ohio State/Oklahoma or Clemson/Auburn.
“That was within their control,” Rives said of the Badgers. “They didn’t schedule strong enough teams, and they knew in this year’s Big Ten rotation they weren’t playing Michigan State or Ohio State or Penn State, and they didn’t schedule tough enough. So at the moment, that’s the rationale for 5.”
Nevertheless, if the Badgers win out, they’re in. They beat No. 20 Iowa 38-14 on Saturday, host No. 24 Michigan (8-2) this Saturday at 12 p.m. ET, play at Minnesota on Nov. 25, and will likely face No. 9 Ohio State (8-2) in the Big Ten Championship on Dec. 2.
“They’ve got a huge one with Michigan,” Rives said. “They’ve got a Big Ten title game potentially looming. I will say this: it’s obvious. If they are undefeated – defeating Michigan and then defeating a Big Ten opponent like Ohio State or Penn State in the title game – you’re not going to keep them out of the top four. They will find a way to have the unbeaten 13-0 Big Ten champion in there. Wisconsin will be in there. They just got to keep taking care of business.”