Path To The 2018 College Football Playoff: Wisconsin Badgers
What is Wisconsin’s path to the 2018 College Football Playoff? What are the different ways the Badgers can get in?
Path To The Playoff: Wisconsin
What’s The Easiest Path?
Ignore the crock of hoo-ha many will want to sell you about Wisconsin being left out of the College Football Playoff because of its schedule. If the Badgers go 13-0, they’ll at the very least be one of three Power Five teams – the SEC champion and Miami the others – that will be unbeaten P5 champs. More than likely, it would be one of two.
Just like 12-0 Iowa would’ve gotten in with a mediocre slate two years ago had it held on to beat Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship, considering there wouldn’t be four other unbeaten teams to knock Bucky out, no way, no how, no chance would an unbeaten Big Ten champion not get in.
No, the schedule isn’t anything amazing, but if the Badgers go 13-0, they’ll have beaten Michigan and – likely – either Ohio State or Penn State to get the job done. That, along with not-that-awful wins over Nebraska, Northwestern and Iowa, and that will be enough.
But, What Happens If …
Wisconsin loses in the regular season and wins the Big Ten championship going 12-1?
It depends on how it would happen. If that loss comes in a fight against Michigan, and then the Badgers roll by Ohio State, they’ll have a solid shot. If they biff against Indiana, Iowa or Minnesota, then there’s a problem.
The SEC champion is likely going to be ahead of UW, as would a one-loss Clemson if it wins the ACC title, and an 11-1 Notre Dame, and a 12-1 SEC Championship loser, and a 12-1 Big 12 champ.
A loss wouldn’t be a death blow, but it would be a problem. 12-1 with a loss in the Big Ten Championship, though, and forget it.
The Realistic Worst Case Scenario
Wisconsin loses the Big Ten Championship.
It wouldn’t be a shocker if the Badgers didn’t get by Michigan, and it wouldn’t be all that stunning if Indiana, Iowa or Minnesota rise up and pitch a great game, but the most likely problem would be the Wolverines.
But if this really is a good enough Wisconsin team to even think about the CFP, it needs to roll through the final month, however …
Okay, What’s Going To Happen?
Wisconsin will look fantastic in two of the final four regular season games, will struggle in one of them, and will be in a dogfight in the other that comes down to a close-call win.
At 12-0, it’ll have the College Football Playoff right there for the taking … and then the Badgers will lose to the Buckeyes in the Big Ten championship.
Assuming Penn State goes 11-1 and gets an Orange Bowl invite, the Badgers will go on to the Fiesta Bowl to face Washington.