Wisconsin defeated Minnesota 31-0 on Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium to polish off its first undefeated regular season in 105 years. And as chaos surrounds the college football world, the Badgers continue to rise in their quest for a College Football Playoff berth.
Wisconsin climbed to No. 4 in the latest playoff rankings, which were revealed Tuesday night. It marks the first time the Badgers have reached the top-4 since the playoff rankings were created three seasons ago. Clemson came in at No. 1, with Auburn No. 2 and Oklahoma No. 3.
The Badgers were the beneficiaries of losses by No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Miami. Alabama lost 26-14 to Auburn, while Miami lost 24-14 to Pittsburgh, creating a shakeup at the top.
Clemson defeated South Carolina 34-10, and Oklahoma outpaced West Virginia 59-31. Auburn has two losses this season to Clemson and LSU. But Auburn has defeated Georgia and Alabama in the past three weeks, when both of those teams were ranked No. 1 in the playoff poll.
When the initial CFP poll was released three 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 entirely given their relatively weak strength of schedule and the number of teams ahead of them that would need to lose.
But Wisconsin appears to be just one victory in the Big Ten championship game against Ohio State from earning a coveted playoff spot. The Badgers are the last remaining unbeaten Power 5 conference team and one of two unbeaten in the FBS, alongside UCF.
Wisconsin has three victories against teams that have been ranked in the CFP top 25 at various points this season: Northwestern, Iowa and Michigan. The Badgers’ schedule strength would be further enhanced with their first top-10 win of the season against the Buckeyes.
Wisconsin dominated Minnesota with yet another stellar defensive effort. But one of the most important developments was the play of Badgers quarterback Alex Hornibrook, who completed 15 of 19 passes for 151 yards with 3 touchdowns and no interceptions. Hornibrook had been picked off in each of Wisconsin’s first eight conference games this season.
If he can limit his mistakes, there appear to be few weaknesses for Wisconsin, which provides the Badgers with a great chance to take down Ohio State and reach the playoff.
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