Wisconsin is finally going to get some respect.
Sure, it might come by default, after No. 1 Georgia, No. 3 Notre Dame and No. 6 TCU after this weekend, but the No. 8 Badgers should expect to be in one of those top six spots in the College Football Playoff poll on Tuesday. A 24-point win over Iowa on Saturday only helps Paul Chryst and Co. make their case.
Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan should all see bumps this week with all three winning over the weekend. Michigan State and Iowa will likely both tumble significantly.
In the B1G, 13 of the 14 teams are still fighting for bowl eligibility with two weeks left in the season. Here are a few notes and takeaways from the past weekend.
- For five teams, it’s win or go home next Saturday. Rutgers, Maryland, Indiana, Purdue and Nebraska all sit at 4-6 on the season, needing to win out in order to punch a postseason ticket. Obviously that won’t happen, but we’ve reached gut-check time in the B1G.
- As mentioned earlier, Wisconsin is absolutely in the College Football Playoff conversation. That doesn’t mean it’ll be a lock for one of the top four spots when Tuesday rolls around, but the Badgers should be at least one of the first two out. And with games against a (presumably) ranked Michigan team, Minnesota and (likely) Ohio State in the B1G Championship Game, Wisconsin really does control its own destiny.
- With the Badgers and the Buckeyes still left on the schedule, Michigan could make a serious push for a nice landing spot this postseason. It’s a stretch, but if the Wolverines win out, there’s a slight chance they could land in a New Years Six bowl with a 10-2 record. Michigan’s chances of doing that will also depend on the ankle of star running back Karan Higdon.
- Is Ohio State the most inconsistent team in the country? Ok, maybe that’s a stretch, but the Buckeyes were pummeled by Iowa a week ago only to turn around and mollywhop Michigan State in Columbus. This is definitely a team with elite offensive firepower, but it’s opportunity has already passed at another playoff berth.
- Northwestern is still doing its thing quietly. This week, the Wildcats posted their fifth-straight win, beating Purdue 23-13. Pat Fitzgerald’s team got off to a poor start, but it’s been nothing but smiles ever since. It’s not too far-fetched to think that Northwestern could finish the year at 9-3 and get to the 10-win mark with a bowl victory.
- P.J. Fleck is the closest to bowl eligibility among the B1G’s first-year head coaches. After obliterating Nebraska, Minnesota is at 5-5 on the year, needing just one win to get to the postseason. Of course, getting that victory won’t be easy with Northwestern and Wisconsin on the schedule, but it’s still within reach.
By this time next week, there will be some teams that join Illinois as officially eliminated from bowl contention. And, a few teams will still be alive with one game remaining.
Also next weekend, Wisconsin puts its undefeated record on the line against an 8-2 Michigan team that could completely eliminate the B1G from the playoff picture.
There aren’t many great match-ups, but there are plenty of implications on the line. Until then, here are the bowl projections following Week 11 in the B1G:
Bowl Conferences Teams Foster Farms Bowl B1G vs. Pac-12 Iowa vs. Oregon Holiday Bowl B1G vs. Pac-12 Michigan vs. Arizona Music City Bowl B1G vs. SEC Northwestern vs. Kentucky Outback Bowl B1G vs. SEC Michigan State vs. LSU Cotton Bowl B1G vs. SEC Penn State vs. Notre Dame Peach Bowl AL vs. AL* Ohio State vs. Auburn CFP Semis: Rose Bowl AL vs. AL* (4) Wisconsin vs. (1) Alabama
*Denotes at-large bid