Wisconsin’s football season has defied all my expectations as a fan. What was supposed to be another transition year for Paul Chryst to get his guys in there became one where the Badgers upset no. 5 LSU, shellacked Michigan State on the road when the Spartans were still ranked in the top 10, and beat then-no. 7 Nebraska. Wisconsin also pushed Ohio State into overtime and hung with Michigan in the Big House.
That the Badgers were able to accomplish this without a kicker or a stout quarterback, running back, or skill position players makes it all the more impressive. Their defense has been astonishingly strong; not only did it not skip a beat when star coordinator Dave Aranda left for LSU, it was probably even better this year than it was before. While many people think this brand of football is boring, I’d rather root for a great defense than an explosive offense. It’s less liable to go cold.
Anyways, Wisconsin finds themselves in the position where even if they beat Penn State in the B1G championship game this weekend they probably aren’t making the playoffs unless Clemson and/or Washington loses to Virginia Tech or Colorado. Head to head, the Badgers lost to the Buckeyes at home, and with two losses should not make the playoffs over them. Clemson and Washington have just one loss apiece. Alabama is a juggernaut.
A decent consolation prize for the Badgers winning the nation’s best conference but failing to make the playoffs would be if the current playoff system gets blown up entirely. I harbor no delusions that Wisconsin could beat Alabama in warm weather or a dome, so that makes the snub easier to stomach.
A million people have suggested an eight-team playoff with first round games on campus, and this is a system in which Wisconsin is far more likely to make the postseason in future years (and I’d love to face an SEC team at Camp Randall in December). I’d honestly be thrilled if they won Saturday, missed these playoffs, and helped advance the conversation toward an expanded postseason.