It’s beginning already — the chorus of national pundits slamming the Wisconsin Badgers as not worthy of a College Football Playoff spot.
According to Badger247, former Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver, Joey Galloway, has already gone on record to stat that the Badgers do not belong in the College Football Playoff — even if that team is undefeated.
Here is what Galloway had to say:
“Let’s just say that Wisconsin does actually win the Big Ten and they knock off an undefeated Penn State team or a one-loss Ohio State team, that would be one really good win,” he said. “But I do not believe that would be enough to get them ahead of some of these other conference champions who might have one loss — even if they’re undefeated.”
Knocking off an undefeated Penn State and going undefeated isn’t enough? What if the Nittany Lions are No. 2 in the country and the Badgers are on the doorstep of the College Football Playoff? How exactly would that work there Joey?
But, Galloway isn’t the only one already asking the question. The Washington Post wants us to all know that the Badgers schedule sucks and no one knows what to make the team.
To be fair, few on the ESPN panel were on board with Galloway, including his fellow former Buckeye, Kirk Herbstreit.
“They win that game, they’re 13-0, they’re in,” Herbstreit said. “Regardless of what happened, they’re going to go to the playoff. We can sit here and talk for the next five weeks on how they don’t deserve it, but the fact of the matter is they’ll be in.”
Herbstreit seems to be pointing to the fact that the Big Ten is perhaps college football’s best overall conference in 2017 and winning that conference as an undefeated champion matters.
We’re guessing that Galloway (and it’s not a stretch) is taking a shot at Wisconsin’s schedule here. There is some truth to it, as UW’s opponents to date haven’t exactly lit the world on fire. But, UW’s schedule was pretty much always back loaded outside of Nebraska and BYU on the road early on.
Is it Wisconsin’s fault that BYU has had major quarterback issues and aren’t winning without Taysom Hill? No.
Rather, the Badgers did what quality teams do — went on the road and kicked the living crap out of a bad team.
Nebraska was supposed to be a quality team. Is it Wisconsin’s fault they went in to Memorial Stadium and stopped a 20-game win streak in night games? Nope…in fact, that is exactly what really good teams do.
Northwestern? Well, that win looks better by the weekend if you want to use the logic being applied by Galloway and others. After losing to both the Badgers and Penn State, the Wildcats are on a two-game win streak and face Michigan State this weekend. Win that game and there’s your nice-looking win on the schedule.
Maryland? A win on the road at Texas to start the season gave the Terps plenty of juice. Then a second quarterback went down to an ACL tear and everything has gone downhill with a third string quarterback who isn’t built for the offense. Again, is that Wisconsin’s fault? Nope.
UW took advantage of the situation at hand, opened the game up with a pick-six and raced to a 38-13 victory. Again, that’s what good teams do…take advantage of opportunities in front of them, however they come to you and against whomever is in front of you.
Let’s move the future on UW’s schedule too.
Iowa is doing it’s usual Kirk Ferentz bottoming out two years after a Big Ten title game appearance, not exactly Wisconsin’s fault. Losing three Big Ten games already is classic Ferentz.
But, a win against them and UW could well move to 10-0 on the season. What a shame it would be for the Badgers to go to double-digit wins for the third straight season under Paul Chryst I tell you.
That sets up the game everyone circled on UW’s schedule — Michigan.
Is it Wisconsin’s fault that Michigan’s offense is as good as your local high school? No.
Yet, that potential win looking worse by the day somehow is the Badgers fault and not Michigan’s for not holding up its end of the national punditry bargain. Everyone pointed to that game in Camp Randall as the end-all-be-all of the 2017 season for the Badgers. Win that one and they are off to the Big Ten title game and an easy resume for the College Football Playoff.
As the story goes, it takes two to tango, and Michigan already has two losses on the books and could well have a third by the time it comes to Camp Randall. Sure, the game that was to be isn’t to be anymore. But, does that devalue the win? Not really, especially if Wisconsin does to Michigan what it has done to teams all season long.
Of course, for the likes of Galloway and others, that win would come at home…so how good could the win really be?
Good teams look really good against bad opponents. Wisconsin has accomplished that in spades this season, upending opponents by a combined 256-93 so far.
There’s little denying that the Badgers schedule is light on big time opponents, and I’m not going to argue that point. But, what are the Badgers supposed to do about the Big Ten handing them a few cupcakes from the East division and a West division full of transitioning teams?
We’ll see who is right when the final College Football Playoff rankings come out. For now, the Badgers and the fan base need to just be focused on going out and winning like they have all season — pounding teams in to submission on offense and pounding the opposition offense in to dust.
The good news is that is exactly how head coach Paul Chryst and Co. are attacking what is potentially in front of them.
“I’ve always thought this: The schedule is guaranteed for the team. The helmets will play,” said Chryst earlier this week. “Just enjoy the journey, and the moment that is this week, and at the end of the season you earn the right to do something. We’ve earned the right to be in a bowl game? What bowl game is it? Doesn’t matter.”
In typical Chryst fashion, few on this team are going to care what the outside world has to say, but it’s hard to deny Wisconsin isn’t a true contender on paper. Winning by big margins, playing dominating defense and showcasing one of college football’s best running backs won’t hurt UW’s chances with the people that matter most.
We’ll see who is right — Wisconsin’s play on the field or the pundits off of it — after this Saturday’s contests, as the first College Football Playoff rankings are set to come out on Tuesday, October 31.