Hold your horses, Badger fans. Don't look too much into Wisconsin's No. 9 BCS ranking. In fact, don't look at it at all.
While Wisconsin moved up the standings with its 24-21 victory over Iowa — as well as a number of top-ranked teams falling over the weekend — it will essentially mean absolutely nothing.
Big Ten foes Ohio State and Michigan currently hold down the top two spots in the Bowl Championship Series, and both will most likely hang on to at least a top-five position following this weekend's hyped match-up between the two.
As a result, Wisconsin will be pushed out of the big bowl game picture as "no more than two teams from any single conference may play in BCS games in a single year, regardless of whether they are automatic qualifiers or at-large picks," according to the BCS automatic qualification, at-large eligibility and selection procedures. So, a return to the Capital One Bowl is the most the Badgers can hope for.
But, with the way this year has been shaping up for all of college football, this would be the perfect time to implement a playoff system once and for all.
Just take a look at some of the remaining games for the teams still in the BCS hunt:
No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 1 Ohio State
No. 3 USC vs. No. 15 California
No. 3 USC vs. No. 5 Notre Dame
No. 7 Arkansas vs. No. 11 LSU
No. 8 West Virginia vs. No. 6 Rutgers
No matter how the next couple of weeks unfold, the teams playing in the National Championship Game will most likely cause a stir among football fans. Sure, the winner of Ohio State-Michigan is a lock, but the other team is questionable.
If USC wins out the season, the Trojans will no doubt be the favorite, but Florida also has the numbers to make its case for a shot at the title, having survived the SEC — at least for the time being.
And speaking of the SEC, that conference could be worthy of more than two teams in the BCS the way they have been beating each other up this year. For now, Florida and Arkansas are in, but LSU, Auburn and even Tennessee have had very good seasons. They just had the unfortunate schedule of having to play each other, leaving them all out of the BCS talk.
As for the Big Ten, if Wisconsin finishes in the top 10, then the Badgers should have a right to play in one of the five BCS polls along with Ohio State and Michigan. If a single conference has three of the best teams in the nation, then those three teams should be playing in the three best bowl games.
But the problem lies within the rule, making a playoff system more and more enticing — this year more than ever.
While many head coaches, including UW's Bret Bielema, will say every game is a playoff — and, in most cases, it is — a true playoff would eliminate the questioning of the teams in the national title game.
The major thing holding a playoff system back is money. The NCAA always says it would lose out on sponsorships for bowl games, but in reality, they would not. If college football were to simply seed, say, the top eight teams at the end of the season; have them play in the Orange, Rose, Fiesta and Sugar Bowls; add two more bowl games for the winners; and keep the National Championship Game for the two remaining teams, the NCAA would actually gain more money with two more bowls and much more broadcast time.
For example, if the season were to end today, this is what the playoff system would look like:
Rose Bowl: No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 8 West Virginia
Orange Bowl: No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 7 Arkansas
Fiesta Bowl: No. 3 USC vs. No. 6 Rutgers
Sugar Bowl: No. 4 Florida vs. No. 5 Notre Dame
The Winner of No. 1-No. 8 match-up would play the winner of the No. 4-No. 5 match-up; winner of No. 2-No. 7 match-up would play the winner of the No. 3-No. 6 match-up to go to the National Championship Game.
The other thing holding a playoff system back is the added games and the toll it would take on players. Even though it would put a strain on the select few teams to make the playoffs, it would only be two more games.
As it is, college football's postseason is already nearly a month or even more after the regular season. While some teams certainly want some time off following the wear and tear of the season, a month is rather excessive.
Then again, a true playoff system is probably just a pipe dream, as the NCAA will most likely decide to stick with the old-school procedure of bowl games when the current BCS contract ends in 2010. It's not a bad thing, but it could be better.
Michael is a senior double majoring in Communication Arts and journalism. You can contact him with all your BCS issues and playoff ideas at [email protected]