Winning in Evanston for the first time in 17 years has its advantages. Including one pretty sweet one:
— Wisconsin Football (@BadgerFootball) November 9, 2016
The Wisconsin Badgers (7-2, 4-2 Big Ten) landed at No.7 in the second College Football Playoff rankings, announced Tuesday evening to a national television audience on ESPN. The Badgers were eighth in the first CFP Top 25 released last week.
Wisconsin, also ranked No. 7 in the latest AP Top 25, defeated Northwestern last Saturday, 21-7, to help force a three-way tie atop the Big Ten West with Nebraska and Minnesota.
The Huskers host the Gophers on Saturday night at Memorial Stadium while the Badgers host Illinois (3-6, 2-4) at 3:30 ET Saturday afternoon.
When it comes to the bottom-line playoff committee standard of who you played and who you beat, Wisconsin remains in pretty good shape. The Badgers have played the seventh-toughest schedule in the country, according to longtime statistical analyst Jeff Sagarin, and are coming off their first victory at Ryan Field since 1999.
Wisconsin’s remaining opponents have a combined record of 13-14 while the Huskers’ upcoming opponents stand at 17-10, collectively; Minnesota’s are 18-9.
After a 62-3 thrashing at Ohio State last weekend, Nebraska dropped from No. 10 in the CFP rankings to 19th.
The Badgers are considered to be one of the best two-loss teams in the FBS pool right now, given that their only setbacks were at the hands of No. 2 Michigan (9-0, 6-0) — on the road, 14-7, on Oct. 1 — and at home to No. 6 Ohio State (8-1, 5-1) by a 30-23 score in overtime on Oct. 15.
Wisconsin has already beaten LSU (5-3) and has a higher Sagarin strength-of-schedule rank than Auburn (No. 13), Texas A&M (No. 19) or Louisville (No. 60).
The top four teams in the final CFP rankings will meet in one of two semifinals played on New Year’s Eve in Atlanta or Glendale, Ariz. The semifinal winners would then advance to the national championship game on Jan. 9 in Tampa, Fla.
More than a few dominoes have to fall for Wisconsin to jump into the top 5. But the primary domino is a West Division title that would grant the Badgers shot at a rematch with either Michigan or Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game at Indianapolis on Dec. 3.