The Badgers keep winning, but Jerry Palm’s opinion ain’t changing: Wisconsin’s got one path — and one path only — to the College Football Playoff.
“They have to be undefeated,” the CBS Sports bracketologist told Land of 10 this week when asked about the fifth-ranked and 7-0 Badgers.
“A 1-loss Wisconsin [team] is not going to make the playoff. In fact, of all the potential 1-loss teams out there, they’re probably the weakest 1-loss team.”
Palm’s beef? Strength of schedule.
Or rather, the Badgers’ relative lack thereof.
‘They’re not a playoff team at 12-1. Unless there’s Armageddon, there’s almost no chance.’
— CBS Sports bracketologist Jerry Palm on the Badgers’ hopes of reaching the College Football Playoff
Among the top 10 teams in the latest FBS computer rankings compiled by longtime statnik Jeff Sagarin, only Washington had a worse schedule strength ranking (64) than Wisconsin (62). The Badgers’ three nonconference opponents — Utah State, Florida Atlantic and BYU — head into the weekend with a combined record of 9-14, and the Cougars are a miserable 1-7.
Last season, the Badgers’ postseason resume was bolstered by games against LSU, Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State — Wisconsin beat the Tigers in Green Bay, and fell to the Big Ten East’s three traditional powers by touchdown in each contest, the only losses of an 11-3 campaign. The Big Ten West champions were selected for a berth in the New Year’s Six Cotton Bowl, where the No. 8 Badgers topped No. 12 Western Michigan, 24-16.
Most pundits, including Palm, expect this season’s Badgers (4-0 Big Ten) to repeat as West Division champs, again reach double-digit victories, and receive another New Year’s Six berth.
That said …
“If they’re not undefeated, they’re not a playoff team,” Palm continued.
“With that kind of record, they get into a New Year’s Six game. But they’re not a playoff team at 12-1. Unless there’s Armageddon, there’s almost no chance.
“You even look at their [East] division games — they get Michigan, who’s probably going to be 8-4, and then a Big Ten championship game.”
According to Sagarin and Ken Massey, the Badgers’ “best” win to date was a 33-24 home victory over 4-3 Northwestern (No. 34 Massey; No. 34 Sagarin) on Sept. 30. Wisconsin’s schedule the remainder of the season includes just two games against schools ranked among Massey’s top 40 (No. 31 Iowa on Nov. 11; No. 17 Michigan on Nov. 18) and only one — the Wolverines — open the week ranked among Massey’s top 20. Both contests are in Madison.
“I would argue that Washington’s schedule, at 12-1, would be better,” Palm said. “And that says something.”