The University of Wisconsin managed to win their ninth game of the season this past weekend against the Indiana Hoosiers, yet many fans were left shocked when they looked at the newest AP poll.
Wisconsin had finally managed to crack the top five of the AP poll, with their undefeated season proving too strong for many critics to argue against. However, after the College Football Playoffs rankings came out, many began to start questioning Wisconsin again and were happy to have another reason to write the Badgers out of the CFP running.
Wisconsin is one of three teams that remain undefeated going into week 11, with both Alabama and Georgia also boasting a perfect season up until this point. Why isn’t Wisconsin right behind then you might ask? Below are some of the many reasons why people are saying Wisconsin just isn’t CFP material.
Wisconsin has had too easy of a schedule
The first comment that everyone seems to make about Wisconsin this year is how easy their schedule is. Whether it is spectators in the Big Ten claiming that Wisconsin hasn’t proven itself because it has yet to play a fearsome opponent, or outsiders pointing out the fact that Wisconsin has not played another nationally ranked opponent thus far this season, schedule difficulty always seems to be the Achilles’ heel for the Badgers.
Of course, Wisconsin isn’t the only one with an “easy schedule” this season, and they are certainly not the only team in the top ten of the AP Poll. As a matter of fact, Georgia, who is ranked No.2 in the AP Poll, also has yet to see a ranked opponent in the regular season.
So, what is the difference between Georgia and Wisconsin? Location. There has been a long-standing rivalry between northern schools and southern schools, with many believing that good football can only be found in the south.
This kind of mentality is the reason why Wisconsin can have the same kind of schedule that Georgia has, but with more impacts. The competition is the exact same between the two schools, but one’s location is going to be the deciding factor when we talk about their performance.
The Wisconsin offense still has its fare share of problems
One of the other things that critics point to when talking about the 2017 Wisconsin football team is the struggles that the offense has continued to have entering into week 11.
While I am not denying that there are still things that Wisconsin needs to work on, I think that it is irrational that a team can be faulted for being imperfect. The best football team is not always the team that makes the fewest mistakes, but the team that manages to learn from those mistakes and minimize errors in a short period of time.
While the Wisconsin offense might still have some issues with turnovers and interceptions, the team is still managing to win ball games. Players are fixing mistakes quickly and have shown to be a dominant team on the field.
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The idea that one of the things keeping Wisconsin out of CFP talk is the fact that their offense needs to improve is like saying Peyton Manning shouldn’t be considered a great quarterback because he threw a few interceptions during his career. Everyone is going to make mistakes, but it is a matter of how you respond to those mistakes.
Wisconsin football has been responding well, and I believe that there have been improvements made over the course of 11 weeks. I think to assume that this team should be flawless by this point is just irrational, and a weak argument to keep bringing up against the Badgers.
Too many key players have been getting injured, and replacing people mid-season is hard
I am not going to try and deny the fact that Wisconsin has a fair share of people on IR right now. However, the Badgers have built a program that accounts for injuries and works around any injury that might pop up.
This has been demonstrated time and time again, even in this season alone. Jonathan Taylor suffered an injury during Illinois, and Garrett Groshek filled his shoes with ease.
When Jack Cichy would be ruled out due to an ACL injury acquired during practice, his lineman Chris Orr would make sure to fill Cichy’s shoes, both as a leader and as a player. Even now with Orr listed as injured for the week, sophomore Tyler Johnson stepped in, filling in coverage with little to no difficulty.
While there might be injuries plaguing the Wisconsin football team, these are not new issues that they have to face. Injuries are something that any team has to deal with at this point of the season, and Wisconsin has managed to handle their injuries with an amount of grace that is to be commended.
The reasons why Wisconsin fell two spots in the AP Poll are numerous, yet many of them don’t manage to stand actual scrutiny. It looks as though Wisconsin will just have to keep fighting through the adversity that is constantly thrown their way.