Should Wisconsin win the Big 10, send the Badgers to the Rose Bowl. They deserve it.
I like the fact that humans decide which teams will play for a national championship rather than a computer. But that does not mean that criticism goes out the window. Call it bias with it being my alma mater, but the fact that it has taken Wisconsin this long get respect and find themselves in the top four baffles me. The Badgers should be in a position to make the Rose Bowl if they finish the job and I will explain why.
Since the College Football Playoff committee came in to existence four years ago, the criteria and stipulations for being the top four teams changed. The committee stresses more emphasis on strength of schedule and a loss or even two losses does not guarantee elimination.
With the most recent rankings, Clemson came in at one, no surprise there. Then Auburn at two. Two loss Auburn. Granted, one of those came to Clemson. The other, 17th-ranked 9-3 LSU.
Say Wisconsin lost to Iowa on November 11. At the time Iowa was ranked 20, but if Wisconsin had lost to the Hawkeyes for their first loss, there is no way the Badgers would still have a chance at the top four. Yes, Auburn beat Georgia and Alabama when both teams were ranked number one overall and if Auburn beats Georgia in the SEC Championship this Saturday, they probably deserve to make the playoffs, but not as the two seed. I will explain why beating the Crimson Tide is not the best thing to bless the college town of Auburn, but let’s finish rounding out the top four.
Number three is Oklahoma which also is not much of a shocker. But even Oklahoma is not as amazing as they seem. When it comes to the Sooners, people see Baker Mayfield throwing touchdown after touchdown and gesturing obscenely towards his opponents.
They see a team that averages 45.25 points a game and then they think they are watching the greatest offense to ever grace the field. Only one thing, the Sooners play in the Big 12 where defense is about as rare as a full solar eclipse on a leap day. What I mean by that is Oklahoma surrenders over 25 points a game. Also, the Sooners played four teams whose defense ranks in the top 50. The best they faced came against Ohio State whose defense ranks eighth and they beat the Buckeyes 31-16. The next best was a 29-24 win over Texas at 42 and then Iowa State, who beat the Sooners, at 46.
Finally, at number four we have the Badgers of Wisconsin. Queue all those saying, “There schedule was so easy” and “They could never compete with Clemson or Alabama.”
First off, the Badgers play the majority of their games against the Big 10 and cannot control the skill of their opponents. Then comes the argument of the simplicity of their non-conference schedule. Firstly, excuse the few easy games that every team plays. Then people quickly point out the game the Badgers played against BYU. Yes, 4-9 BYU is lousy, but these games are scheduled years in advance and back in 2011, BYU finished 10-3 and ranked 25th overall. Remember when Wisconsin played FCS schools Mercer and The Citadel in week 12? Oh wait, that was the beloved Alabama Crimson Tide and Clemson Tigers.
Yes, I am capable of looking at a ranking sheet. Wisconsin only has one win over a current ranked team in 21st Northwestern. But if we take a look at the defenses the Badgers faced, I see six teams in the top 50 including a win over Michigan with the third best defense. Just for the record, the number one defense in college football belongs to the Badgers.
Some still say Alabama has a chance and should be in the playoffs this year. A statement could not be more false. Right now, the fifth ranked Crimson Tide are on the outside looking in. With the loss to Auburn last week, Alabama also lost their chance to play in the SEC Championship meaning their next game will be a bowl game. Barring a scenario in which Oklahoma and Wisconsin lose their conference championship games, expect the Crimson Tide to be out of the playoffs for the first time since it was created in 2014.
Aforementioned, the committee seems to be more focused on strength of schedule over losses this year. If a spot were to open, why should Alabama get it? They barely escaped 8-4 Mississippi State and did beat LSU. Some will argue they possess a top five win. That win came against Florida State in the first game of the season and the Seminoles are currently not even eligible for a bowl game.
The argument that Alabama’s history should get them in bores me. Call me crazy, but I am a firm believer in present succes carrying more weight than past accomplishments.
Should Wisconsin win this Saturday against the Buckeyes, they will complete a 13-0 season in a power five conference. Anyone who thinks that a 13-0 conference champion in a power five conference does not deserve a chance at the playoffs really needs to reconsider.
I seem to remember in 2014 when Florida State went undefeated in the regular season and won the ACC Championship. They squeaked by teams they were supposed to dominate and at the end of the day, earned a trip to the playoffs. Sound familiar?
The fact that Wisconsin does not win in the same manner as Clemson or Oklahoma should not be a reason to criticize the Badgers. Last I checked, the objective is to win.
Luckily, the committee ranked Wisconsin number four which basically ensures a playoff berth should they take care of business against Ohio State in Indianapolis on Saturday, December 2. If they do not win, then Wisconsin will not qualify for the playoffs and rightfully so. A top team can lose early and it will be forgotten so long as they win afterwards, but a late loss serves as the kiss of death to playoff hopefuls.
I know this is Minnesota and the people here say, “Better dead than red,” but I ask you to set aside prejudices this one time and just be a football fan. After all, this is good for the Big 10. People are finally starting to catch on and realize the SEC does not “mean more.” The age of the Big 10 is here.