As referenced in my rankings analysis, I thought it would be interesting to look at what teams Wisconsin fans should be rooting for in order for Wisconsin to move up the BCS rankings. A number of these are already obvious, but I dug as far as I could for minor impact possibilities as well. I wasn't sure on the best way to sort these, so I've just made some custom categories. Due to your own individual fandom, level of agreement may waver.
#19 Wisconsin @ #25 Minnesota- It goes without saying, but if Wisconsin loses this one, the rest of this article doesn't matter, plain and simple.
#16 Northern Illinois @
Toledo- Northern Illinois threatens Wisconsin's BCS hopes both by being ranked higher and potentially stealing a BCS bid as a non-AQ qualifier. NIU beat Toledo 35-17 this week. Rutgers @ #18 UCF- As an automatic qualifier UCF isn't blocking any at-large bids, but unless Wisconsin jumps them naturally they take up space on the road to at-large qualification. UCF defeated Rutgers 41-17 last night.
Ranked Ahead of Wisconsin
#4 Baylor @ #10 Oklahoma State
Coastal Carolina @ #11 South Carolina
#13 Michigan State @ Northwestern- This doubles as an SOS booster.
New Mexico @ #15 Fresno State- Fresno State doubles as a non-AQ auto bid threat.
Massachusetts @ Central Michigan
Austin Peay @ Tennessee Tech
Michigan @ Iowa
BYU @ Notre Dame- This would also provide a minor hit to the SOS for fellow ranked teams ASU, USC, Oklahoma, and MSU.
Nebraska @ Penn State
Opponents Playing Each Other
Indiana @ #3 Ohio State
Purdue @ Illinois
(I was conflicted on how to logic my way through these, so I turned to the Colley Matrix, one of the computer rankings for the BCS and the only one that lets you simulate games to see the effect of hypotheticals. Here, wins for Ohio State and Purdue provided a very small boost, while wins for Indiana and Illinois provided a very small setback. However, UW needs OSU to lose out to get in the CCG, so Indiana gets the nod. The worst case scenario with OSU is that they lose 1 of 2, but this loss would hurt UW a little less than a loss to Michigan next week.)
#12 Texas A&M @ #22 LSU- On the surface this looks wrong, since the Aggies are ranked ahead of UW. It also looks like a wash either way, since LSU could very well jump UW with this win. Ultimately, A&M is the pick because they close out the year with a potential loss against #8 Missouri, while LSU has a likely win against Arkansas.
#17 Arizona State @ #14 UCLA- Wisconsin is likely to jump the loser of this one either way, so it's tough to choose. Arizona State gets the nod for a few reasons. First is UW's SOS. Second, though UCLA has a tougher game after this against USC, winning out means ASU has a date with Oregon in their CCG, a likely loss that either knocks them out of the Top 14 or makes them undesirable as an at-large selection.
#8 Missouri @ #24 Ole Miss- Only conflicting because of the potential for Ole Miss to jump Wisconsin with a win, but Colley projects that they wouldn't make the jump, so it's okay to cheer for the upset and for making Missouri a less desirable at-large selection.
Chattanooga @ #1 Alabama
Idaho @ #2 Florida State- I'd love to see both of these go the opposite way, but Wisconsin needs to keep Ohio State out of the NCG. OSU in the title game would open the door for the Rose Bowl to take an at-large, and if MSU is eligible I think they pass on Wisconsin.
#23 USC @ Colorado- USC is ranked ahead of Wisconsin in 3 computer rankings.
Memphis @ #21 Louisville- Louisville tops UW in both human polls and one computer ranking.
#20 Oklahoma @ Kansas State- Oklahoma is ahead in 3 computer rankings.
#5 Oregon @ Arizona- As it stands now, Stanford is likely to be the Pac-12's at-large candidate, and they are a weak one. If Oregon loses it opens the door for Stanford to win the conference and put a more attractive team in the conference's #2 spot.
Citadel @ #7 Clemson- Clemson is a bona fide at-large bid contender, and the ACC has absolutely no one to take over that role if Clemson falls. You can cheer against Clemson with virtually no strings attached.
California @ #9 Stanford- The Top 14 spot Stanford holds is valuable in holding off higher profile/fringe Top 14 contenders in the Pac-12 (ASU, UCLA, USC). If Wisconsin is battling a Pac-12 team for an at-large bid, it wants Stanford and its smaller fan base.
Boise State @ San Diego State- Boise St. is by far the team best capable to knock out Fresno State, but they need to keep winning to make their CCG and get that opportunity.
Miami (OH) @ Ball State- Ball State is Northern Illinois' best win right now, so a loss at the hands of Miami Hydroxide would hurt their profile a bit.
That should cover every major component and every ranked game this weekend, plus a couple others that seemed interesting. Let me know what you think, any disagreements, or any requests for other games on tap this weekend. Thanks!