Wisconsin defeated Michigan 24-10 on Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium to keep its College Football Playoff dreams alive. There weren’t any major upsets at the top of the rankings this week, but the Badgers are right where they need to be to qualify for the four-team playoff when the final rankings are released in less than two weeks.
In our Land of 10 projection, Wisconsin is expected to remain at No. 5 given the teams ranked ahead of the Badgers all won Saturday. No. 1 Alabama crushed FCS foe Mercer 56-0. No. 2 Clemson also pasted an FCS opponent, defeating The Citadel 61-3. No. 3 Miami battled with Virginia before pulling away for a 44-28 victory. No. 4 Oklahoma hammered Kansas 41-3.
When the initial CFP poll was released two 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 there is little question now that an unbeaten Wisconsin team would make the playoff. Either Clemson or Miami will lose when the teams play each other in the ACC Championship Game, which would clear the way for a 13-0 Wisconsin team to reach the playoff.
Wisconsin rallied from a slow offensive start to take down Michigan. Badgers quarterback Alex Hornibrook threw an interception for the eighth consecutive Big Ten game, which helped the Wolverines take a 10-7 lead on a field goal. But Hornibrook led Wisconsin on a touchdown drive to put the Badgers in front 14-10. Hornibrook connected with receiver A.J. Taylor for a 51-yard completion and then found Taylor for a 24-yard touchdown pass.
Meanwhile, Wisconsin’s defense continued to excel. Michigan was limited to 58 yards rushing, which represented its lowest total this season. The Wolverines entered the game averaging 188.9 rushing yards per game. Badgers inside linebacker T.J. Edwards led the team with 11 tackles, and inside linebacker Ryan Connelly recorded 10.
Wisconsin has two games remaining — against Minnesota in the regular-season finale and against Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game. Ohio State is expected to rank No. 9 in the CFP poll Tuesday night. If the Badgers can win those two games, they almost assuredly would reach their first playoff in school history.