CFP Five Thoughts: 3. Is Wisconsin Any Good?

CFP Five Thoughts: 3. Is Wisconsin Any Good?

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CFP Five Thoughts: 3. Is Wisconsin Any Good?

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CFP Five Thoughts: 3. Is Wisconsin Any Good?


Wisconsin is one of four unbeaten Power Five teams remaining, but is it any good?



5 Thoughts: CFP Edition

1. CFP Criteria & What We’ve Learned
2. The Current CFP Pecking Order
4. Can A Two-Loss Auburn Get In?
5. Experts Pick The First CFP Top 4
Jim McElwain Fired: 5 Possible Florida Replacements
– College Football Playoff Tuesday Night Projection
Week 9 Roundup

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Not to go all Sean Maguire, but Wisconsin, it’s not your fault … no, son, it’s not your fault.

The 2016 Badgers were sentenced to a brutally unfair schedule, starting out the season against LSU, and later going to Michigan State, followed up by a date at Michigan, and then hosting Ohio State, and then going to Iowa, and then getting Nebraska, and then going to Northwestern.

But even after all of that, they still managed to get to the Big Ten Championship game and come within a late collapse of beating Penn State.

This year schedule? Ummmm, yeah …

It’s not Bucky’s fault this year’s slate stinks.

Athletic Director Barry Alvarez has been at the forefront of wanting Power Five programs to play better non-conference games, and Wisconsin has tried to schedule at least big game at year, playing LSU last season and in 2014, Alabama in 2015, and with Notre Dame in 2020 and 2021.

BYU was supposed to count as a strong non-conference game, too, when it was put on the 2017 and 2018 slates, but that didn’t work out so hot this year.

How was Wisconsin supposed to know that BYU would turn in one of the worst seasons in the program’s history?

So now, that road game stinks. The win over Florida Atlantic might look solid at the end of the year if the Fighting Kiffins win the Conference USA title, but whatever. Utah State? Nah.

Going unscathed against a schedule of Northwestern, at Nebraska, Purdue, Maryland and Illinois isn’t horrible – especially if at least three of them go bowling – but it’s not enough to get anyone excited.

Even so, technically, the NCAA has the Badger schedule ranked 83rd so far. Oklahoma’s is 97th, Alabama’s is 83rd, and Miami’s is just 82nd, but it’s still not inspiring.

But what is the College Football Playoff committee supposed to do with this?

Brand name isn’t supposed to matter, but it isn’t like this is Purdue or Minnesota doing this. It’s a program that probably holds the honor of being the best over the last 20 years without playing for a national title, and it might catch a little bit of the benefit of the doubt because of its track record.

It’s fifth in the nation in total defense, No. 2 in time of possession, No. 1 in third down conversions, No. 1 in pass efficiency defense, fifth in sacks, fifth against the run and No. 1 in looking and playing really, really, really bored.

The program didn’t get to this place in the college football world by being stupid. The formula against mediocre opposition dictates that the team 1) doesn’t take unnecessary chances, 2) cranks up the third down defense, 3) runs the ball early so that 4) the massive human beings on the O line can dominate in the second half and can 5) grind down the clock and control games.

It’s not flashy, and it’s hardly inspiring, but it’s brutally effective.

So if the 24-10 win over a horrible Illinois team doesn’t look all that great on paper or by the eye-test, that’s sort of by design. The Badger coaches knew they weren’t going to lose that, so it was stall ball to the nth degree.

It’s as if the team uses just as much energy as it has to, and then it’s on to the next mediocre victim.

Going to Indiana this week will be a wee bit of a fight, and Iowa is always surly, but it’ll be the Michigan showdown that will finally show one way or another what this team can do.

And in the end, if the Badgers get through all of that, and a trip to Minnesota, they’ll have the puck on their 12-0 stick with a shot at going to the College Football Playoff. Beat Ohio State or Penn State, go unbeaten as the Big Ten champ, and get in.

Even if the run is about as scintillating as a steamroller.

5 Thoughts: CFP Edition

1. CFP Criteria & What We’ve Learned
2. The Current CFP Pecking Order
4. Can A Two-Loss Auburn Get In?
5. Experts Pick The First CFP Top 4
Jim McElwain Fired: 5 Possible Florida Replacements
– College Football Playoff Tuesday Night Projection
Week 9 Roundup

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