Is Wisconsin being ranked unfairly in the polls?

Mike McGinnis

A front-loaded schedule coupled with the controversial ending at Arizona State have the Badgers being disrespected in the polls, which could take them out of the at-large BCS bowl picture.

After bouncing back from the Ohio State loss with victories over Northwestern and Illinois, nearly all college football experts are labeling Wisconsin as the second-best team in the Big Ten. Although the Big Ten is having what most would consider another subpar season and the Badgers dropped two games in September, it's still impressive they're widely recognized as the second-best team in the conference under a new head coach.

However, not everyone believes the Badgers are receiving the respect they deserve.

Monday, ESPN.com Big Ten blogger Adam Rittenberg wrote about how Wisconsin has been disrespected in the rankings -- in both the coaches and BCS polls. If you haven't read the article yet, I highly recommend it. He makes some strong and compelling claims in the piece, which he begins like this:

Wisconsin is still paying the price for the incompetence of a Pac-12 officiating crew.

Perhaps the Badgers are also suffering for a schedule that, gasp, actually featured some challenges during the month of September.

Either way, a very good team, the second-best team in the Big Ten, is being completely overlooked nationally. And it's a damn shame.

The first sign of disrespect came around noon on Sunday, when the clown show known as the Coaches' Poll revealed its latest rankings. Wisconsin barely squeaked in at No. 24.

Rittenberg goes on to point out how the Badgers have been dominant in their five victories, played an elite Ohio State team very tough on the road and were cheated of an opportunity to win at Arizona State.

He also dislikes the fact Nebraska and Michigan are ranked ahead of Wisconsin in both polls. Those two teams, despite having suffered just one loss each thus far, he believes are overrated with Nebraska's record a product of its weak schedule and Michigan having played lackluster football against inferior opponents.

Maybe Rittenberg comes off a bit strong in the piece, but his arguments make a lot of sense. The fact of the matter is this Wisconsin team would be ranked completely differently had it pulled out a win at Arizona State. We all know the Badgers were jobbed and should've at least received an opportunity to win the game, but it's clear the nation views a 6-1 UW squad completely differently than 5-2 one, despite what you believe the team's record should be.

Wisconsin still has a great opportunity to reach the Capital One or Outback Bowls, but the loss at ASU may prevent the UW from having a shot at an at-large BCS berth, and that's the ultimate shame from all of this. The Badgers still have their remaining five games to take care of, and they have a great shot to win out. But it's going to take a lot for the Wisconsin to crack the top-14 in the BCS standings and qualify for a major bowl.

It seems as if we complain about where the Badgers are ranked every season and how unfair the computer rankings are to them, but this year the rankings could have much more impact on where Wisconsin goes bowling than they did in recent years.

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