Wisconsin defeated Iowa 38-14 on Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium in one of its most impressive performances of the season. And as other teams ranked in front of Wisconsin continue to fall, the Badgers’ visions of reaching the College Football Playoff are coming clearer into view.
Based on where Wisconsin is projected to rank when the College Football Playoff Top 25 poll is released Tuesday night, the Badgers are almost there.
In our Land of 10 projection, Wisconsin is expected to rise three spots from No. 8 to No. 5 given losses by Georgia, Notre Dame and TCU. Georgia, which was ranked No. 1, lost to No. 10 Auburn. No. 3 Notre Dame lost to No. 7 Miami, and No. 6 TCU fell to No. 5 Oklahoma.
The top 5 should feature a major shakeup. Alabama likely will rise to No. 1. Oklahoma’s 38-20 victory against TCU could help the Sooners leapfrog past Clemson into the No. 2 spot. Undefeated Miami also could jump Clemson into the No. 3 spot. Clemson is projected to remain at No. 4 after a 31-14 victory against a Florida State team that is 3-6.
When the initial CFP poll was released two weeks ago, Wisconsin was ranked No. 9 behind six one-loss teams. There was talk that an undefeated Badgers team could be left out of the playoff given their weak strength of schedule and the number of teams ahead of them that would need to lose.
But there is little question now that an unbeaten Wisconsin team would make the playoff. Either Clemson or Miami will lose when the teams match up in the ACC Championship Game, which would clear the way for a 13-0 Wisconsin team to reach the playoff.
Wisconsin’s defense was dominant during its victory against Iowa, which was ranked No. 20 by the playoff selection committee last week after a 55-24 victory against Ohio State. But the Hawkeyes couldn’t muster anything offensively against the Badgers. Iowa gained 66 yards of total offense and was 0 for 13 on third-down attempts.
For several weeks, Badgers players have said they weren’t paying attention to where they stood in the national rankings. As long as the team continued to win, they said, Wisconsin would be in position to achieve its dreams.
There are three games remaining ― against Michigan, Minnesota and the Big Ten East winner in the league championship game. But everything appears to have fallen in place for a playoff berth if the Badgers win out.
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