Badgers climb into College Football Playoff field
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
That is all that stands between Wisconsin and a berth in the College Football Playoff.
Win and you’re in the football’s version of the Final Four.
Lose and you’ll be left to wonder:
UW (12-0, 9-0 Big Ten) moved up one spot to No. 4 in the College Football Playoff rankings revealed Tuesday.
The Badgers opened at No. 9, moved up to No. 8 in Week 2, moved up to No. 5 in Week 3, stayed at No. 5 in Week 4 and moved up this week thanks to losses by then-No. 1 Alabama and then-No. 2 Miami last weekend.
UW faces No. 8 Ohio State (10-2, 8-1 Big Ten) at 7:17 p.m. Saturday in the Big Ten title game in Indianapolis.
The Buckeyes moved up one spot from No. 9 this week.
A victory over the Buckeyes should secure a berth in the playoff, which began in 2014.
The final rankings are set to be revealed at 11 a.m. Sunday on ESPN.
The national semifinals are set for Jan. 1, at 4 p.m. at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., and at 7:45 p.m. at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.
The national title game is set for 7 p.m. Jan. 8 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
“It’s amazing,” ESPN analyst Booger McFarland said Tuesday night after the top four were revealed. “All year long we’ve talked about Wisconsin’s nonconference schedule. We’ve talked about (them) not having played anyone.
“And when it’s all said and done, if you’re in Wisconsin right now you have what you want. You beat Ohio State, you’re in the playoff. …
“If you’re Wisconsin, you’ve got everything you want right now.”
A loss to the Buckeyes likely would result in UW being left out of the playoff, but the Badgers still would be in the running for a marquee bowl game.
Clemson (11-1) was the No. 1 team Tuesday, up two spots from last week. The Tigers were followed by No. 2 Auburn (10-2), No. 3 Oklahoma (11-1), UW, No. 5 Alabama (11-1), No 6 Georgia (11-1), No. 7 Miami (10-1), Ohio State, No. 9 Penn State (10-2) and No. 10 USC (10-2).
UW coach Paul Chryst, speaking on a teleconference earlier this week, made it clear that the players’ focus will be on attempting to win the Big Ten title for the first time since 2012.
“This group has earned the right to have the opportunity to play in the Big Ten championship,” he said. “And that is a huge deal. That’s what this whole week is all about. That is saying a lot.
“It is a heck of a challenge playing against a really good Ohio State football team and what we’re playing for is the Big Ten championship.
“Boy, that says it all. That’s what every bit of our focus will be on.”
UW athletic director Barry Alvarez, a member of the selection committee from 2014 through last season, said Tuesday he has been impressed by UW’s ability to win week after week and avoid getting caught up in the playoff debate.
“The kids have been smart enough to know they can’t control that so it’s like water going off your back,” he said. “We take care of our business, as we have so far, good things are going to happen.
“They know that and they don’t get caught up in: ‘What if?’
“They just worry about the next game.”
Last updated: 11:26 pm Tuesday, November 28, 2017