OK, OK. Raise your hand if, before the start of the 2016 season, you believed the Wisconsin Badgers would be in contention for a spot in the College Football Playoff.
The selection committee released its first set of rankings on Tuesday evening and Wisconsin (6-2, 3-2 Big Ten) was announced as No. 8, ahead of Auburn and Nebraska.
The first four currently are the following programs:
- No. 1 Alabama
- No. 2 Clemson
- No. 3 Michigan
- No. 4 Texas A&M
Five Big Ten teams rank in the Top 12 of the selection committee’s list. The Wolverines are ahead of the No. 6 Ohio State Buckeyes, No. 8 Badgers, No. 10 Nebraska Cornhuskers and No. 12 Penn State Nittany Lions.
There’s still plenty of time for upsets and shake-ups. Wisconsin has to take care of business first, starting this week against a Northwestern squad in Evanston that played very well against the Buckeyes in a 24-20 loss in Columbus.
“I think they matter to a lot of people, and there’s a lot of attention with it,” head coach Paul Chryst said on Monday when asked if the playoff rankings matter at this point in the season. “I think for our team or any team, what it really matters is what you do that week and all the discussion, none of that matters, doesn’t help you play the game. You got to play your season out, and at the end of that season, you earn the right to play another game and what type of game you’re playing in depends on what you do.
“There’s a lot of interest in college football, and that’s great, but I think as far as when you’re in it and playing—our kids today need to focus on having a great Monday and then really having a great week.”