The College Football Playoff selection committee will surely take notice of the University of Wisconsin’s dominant defensive performance in a 38-14 win over Iowa on Saturday.
Other results from around the country, however, could boost the eighth-ranked Badgers up the CFP rankings when they’re released Tuesday night more than anything they did against the Hawkeyes.
Losses by No. 1 Georgia, No. 3 Notre Dame and No. 6 TCU over the weekend put UW (10-0, 7-0) in prime position to secure a playoff spot with three more victories.
“It doesn’t matter to us,” UW offensive lineman Jason Erdmann said. “We’re just going to do what we do. We’ll keep beating teams. We’ll keep playing hard every play. We’re going to keep going three feet at a time — that’s our motto. Just keep chipping away and ignore the outside noise. Just focus on ourselves.”
That’s worked for the Badgers so far, and it appears they’ve gotten the help necessary to ease concerns about being left out of the top four with a 13-0 record at the end of the season.
Two teams ahead of UW were going to lose regardless Saturday, as TCU faced fifth-ranked Oklahoma and Notre Dame traveled to No. 7 Miami.
The Hurricanes’ 41-8 victory looks favorable for the Badgers, however. It practically ensures the Fighting Irish — with its most difficult games behind them — will fall below UW, while either Miami or fourth-ranked Clemson stands to suffer a defeat in the ACC Championship game.
Auburn’s 40-17 thumping of Georgia may prove to be the most vital result for the Badgers. While the Bulldogs may remain ranked near UW, the chances of an undefeated Badgers team finishing behind two teams from the SEC plummeted Saturday.
The Tigers will move up from No. 10 and have an opportunity to knock off second-ranked Alabama before facing Georgia again in the SEC title game, but with two losses earlier this season to Clemson and LSU, Auburn likely won’t be able to jump the Badgers if they finish 13-0.
Since debuting at No. 9 in the first CFP rankings two weeks ago, UW kept its focus solely on winning its own games. Now, that may truly be all that matters for the Badgers.
“I just worry about the next week’s opponent,” UW cornerback Derrick Tindal said. “At the end of the day, if we lose, nobody’s going to talk about us then. I just want us to stay humble, stick to our grind, ball out.”
While difficult to predict the committee’s thought process, UW’s most likely landing spot when the rankings are released at 8 p.m. on Tuesday could be fifth or sixth, depending on how far Georgia falls.
The Badgers clinched the Big Ten West with their win over Iowa, a footnote that would warrant its own headline in previous seasons. UW’s now in an ideal position to accomplish even bigger goals.
“We know what we’re up against now,” UW running back Bradrick Shaw said. “We’ve just got to win these last two ballgames and see where it goes. We haven’t been worrying too much about the rankings yet. We just want to continue to win.”