The University of Wisconsin continues inching closer to a spot in the College Football Playoff.
The Badgers moved up three spots to No. 5 in the latest CFP rankings Tuesday night after their impressive, 38-14 victory over then-No. 20 Iowa.
Following top-ranked Georgia’s loss at Auburn, Alabama overtook the top spot in the poll, followed by Clemson, Miami and Oklahoma.
UW entered last weekend No. 8 before three teams ranked in the top six — Georgia, No. 3 Notre Dame and No. 6 TCU — lost Saturday.
Clemson and Miami will play each other in the ACC Championship game, which could open the door for the Badgers to climb into the top four if they win their final three contests.
UW, now 10-0 for the first time in school history, hosts No. 24 Michigan on Saturday and travels to Minnesota next week before playing in the Big Ten Championship game Dec. 2.
“(The Badgers) should control their own destiny with a chance to beat No. 9 Ohio State (in the Big Ten title game),” ESPN analyst Joey Galloway said on the network’s CFP selection show. “Michigan’s ranked this week. Resume-wise, if you’re putting them at 5 now, if they win out, they should be in.
“If we have an undefeated Wisconsin … one of those ACC teams has to go.”
There still aren’t any guarantees for the Badgers. Miami is also currently undefeated, and it’s unclear how far the Hurricanes would fall if they suffered a close loss to Clemson on the final week.
One other scenario could make the final rankings show nerve-racking for UW fans. If Alabama lost to either No. 6 Auburn in the final week of the regular season or No. 7 Georgia in the SEC Championship game, the committee could make a case to keep the Crimson Tide in the top four and move the SEC champion up as well.
While those potential scenarios exist, the Badgers’ No. 5 ranking this week makes it highly unlikely they would be left out of the playoffs if they finish 13-0.
A soft schedule led to UW’s lower spot during the first two editions of the rankings, but the Badgers have opportunities to build an even better resume over the next three weeks.
Michigan jumped into the rankings this week as the Wolverines prepare for a trip to Camp Randall Stadium, while Ohio State, UW’s most likely opponent in the Big Ten title game, moved up four spots to No. 9. Northwestern, who the Badgers beat 33-24 on Sept. 30, are now ranked No. 23.
CFP selection committee chair Kirby Hocutt said the committee came away impressed by UW’s win over Iowa last week, especially considering what the Badgers’ defense was able to accomplish in holding the Hawkeyes to 66 total yards.
“Wisconsin, we’ve said the schedule is there,” Hocutt said. “We were impressed with the win over an Iowa team who defeated Ohio State the week before. … The defense is what has really impressed this selection committee.”