The undefeated Wisconsin Badgers are still on the outside looking in for the College Football Playoff. But they continue to inch their way closer to the proceedings.
Wisconsin is No. 5 in the latest College Football Playoff standings, trailing Alabama, Clemson, Miami and Oklahoma. A slip by any one of those teams would surely put the presumptive Big Ten champions into the College Football Playoff.
And, realistically, that is what it will take for Wisconsin to have a shot at the national championship. The Badgers must go undefeated and win the Big Ten to reach the Playoffs.
Even that might leave them little breathing room.
At No. 6 is two-loss Auburn. If the Tigers go undefeated that would give them a win over No. 1 Alabama and likely another win over No. 7 Georgia. That would be three wins over top-10 teams in about a month. That would be hard for anyone to ignore — even with two losses.
Wisconsin can only do what it can do with the schedule remaining. But the margin of error is as thin as it can be. The Badgers’ only real chance for an impressive victory would come in the Big Ten Championship Game where they would likely face No. 9 Ohio State. As it stands, Wisconsin’s most impressive win is over No. 23 Northwestern.
Wisconsin plays No. 24 Michigan this Saturday. Another chance for a solid win that might get shrugged off. Such is Wisconsin’s season.
The Big Ten has six teams in the Top 25 of the College Football Standings. Wisconsin leads the way at No. 5. Ohio State is No. 9, Penn State is No. 10 and Michigan State is No. 11. Northwestern and Michigan bring up the rear at No. 23 and No. 24. Iowas was dropped from the rankings following the loss to Wisconsin last weekend.
To be sure, the standings are encouraging for the Badgers. It would seem they are in prime position to jump into the Playoff picture. But they will need help. They do not control their own destiny in this matter.
And even winning out and winning their conference with a loss from a team above them does not guarantee much. The Big Ten’s hopes rest on Wisconsin finding a way in. Only time will tell if they can.