Could a 13-0 Big Ten champion be left out of the College Football Playoff?

“I think that would be very difficult to do,’’ Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez told “There’s no part of me that says if you go undefeated as a Power 5 and win your conference championship, and you’re not going to be in the final four? I don’t see that. That would shock me.’’

And yet, that’s a very real possibility for Alvarez’ Badgers. Which is why he is starting the lobbying campaign.

At first glance, it sounds ridiculous to think that there could be four more qualified teams than an unbeaten Big Ten champion. This is a league that had three of the top six slots in the mid-season AP poll.

And yet, as I sit here in my brand-new Badger-logoed fleece top—why was that on sale the other day at Columbia outfitters? Do they know something we don’t know?—I can see plenty of ways Wisconsin gets left out.

The Badgers are No. 8 in this week’s poll, with a very realistic chance to move up to No. 6 next week—after No. 3 Notre Dame and No. 7 Miami, and No. 5 Oklahoma and No. 6 TCU, go head-to-head on Saturday.

Down the road, No. 1 Georgia and No. 2 Alabama are on a collision course in the SEC championship game. But if that’s a tight game, do the Badgers move ahead of either of those teams?


Wisconsin also faces an uphill battle to move ahead of Clemson.

Anyway you slice it, if things don’t break right, the Badgers could wind up sixth in the final rankings. And for all the griping that will come out of the Dairy State, even this Badger alum would be hard-pressed to disagree.


The problem, obviously, is strength of schedule. Which Wisconsin doesn’t have.

It’s not the Badgers’ fault that their nonconference marquee opponent, BYU, is having an uncharacteristically bad year. Stuff happens.

What the Big Ten can do is change the way it makes up its conference schedules. The rest of this article is available to subscribers only – to become a subscriber click here.