What a weekend for college football.
Getting up this morning, the dust settled with five Top 10 teams adding a loss to their record. Just making sure I’m not delusional, the following teams fell on Saturday:
- No. 2 Clemson
- No. 3 Michigan
- No. 4 Washington
- No. 8 Texas A&M
- No. 9 Auburn
No. 7 Wisconsin could find itself moving up a spot or several, depending upon how voters in the AP and Coaches polls feel about the two-loss team compared to three one-loss squads. With the Tigers, Wolverines and Huskies all falling, the Badgers (8-2, 5-2 Big Ten) are in prime position to see a climb, especially with their 48-3 blowout win over Illinois, but how much? The biggest jumper may be in fact No. 10 Penn State, who despite struggling for a good part of the game, came back defeated Indiana by 14.
Of course, the only rankings that truly matter at the end of the season are the College Football Playoff selection committee’s rankings, which will be released on Tuesday evening (8 p.m. CT). There’s still so much that can happen this year in the conferences that it’s almost not worth discussing.
The one thing Wisconsin can do with all this playoff talk — win out the regular season, beat the East division representative, and they’ll put themselves in prime discussion (and possibly a spot) in the playoff.
**2016 Chris Jericho voice**
2016 College Football: Drink it in, man.
Collective ball for the running game: Another group award, but justly deserved. The Badgers preach about each player doing his 1/11th, and from the offensive line to the running backs, all in post-game interviews praised each other and the other position groups like the wide receivers and tight ends. Wisconsin rushed for 363 yards, the most in the Paul Chryst era, and it’s a train that is gaining steam heading into West Lafayette and the rest of the regular season.
Leo Musso: Wisconsin’s safeties have been such a positive development this season for the defense. Both D’Cota Dixon and Musso deserve a lot of accolades for their play in 2016. On Saturday, the Waunakee native intercepted two passes in acrobatic (and for the latter, tip drill fashion) while recording four stops. On the year, he ranks third on the team in tackles (51) and is tied for second on the team in interceptions.
You could also give it to the defense as a whole for that matter, allowing only 200 yards total to the Illini and forcing four turnovers altogether.
Andrew Endicott: The senior kicker converted on both of his field goal attempts and all six of his extra points. Yes, the two field goals were inside of 40 yards, but it’s a welcomed sign for a rebound after a rough three weeks. For Wisconsin to keep its dream of a Big Ten Championship in Indianapolis, special teams needs to be on point. Good to see the California native take a huge step forward.
Notes from Saturday’s game
- The official attendance at Camp Randall Stadium was 79,340.
- Representatives from the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl, Outback Bowl and Orange Bowl were attending the game.
- For the fourth-straight season, Wisconsin has won eight of its first 10 games
- Illinois did not convert a third-down on Saturday, the first time a Wisconsin opponent has been shut out in that category since at least 1998.
- UW’s defense has allowed 12.7 points per game through 10 games. They lead the nation last season in that category at 13.7 points per contest.
What to watch for
Wisconsin’s pass defense vs. Purdue’s pass offense. The Boilermakers may be near the doormat of the league, but they lead the conference in passing yards per game at just over 309.2 yards. The Badgers are third in the Big Ten in pass defense, allowing only 191.5 yards per outing. With the Darrell Hazell-less Boilermakers ranked worst in the league in rushing (104.1 yards per game), Wisconsin will force their adversaries to be one-dimensional. Should be an intriguing match-up.
Wisconsin’s rush offense vs. Purdue’s rush defense. On the other side, the Boilermakers give up almost 249 yards rushing per game, including 253 against Northwestern this weekend. Wisconsin just gained 363 in Saturday’s win. UW’s momentum on the ground + awful Purdue defense (worst in conference in total defense and opponent’s third down conversions) = this could get ugly quickly.
The many different ways the Big Ten East can play out. This graphic from Eleven Warriors breaks down the ensuing craziness between the Wolverines, Buckeyes and Nittany Lions. The bottom line, however, is that Michigan reaches the Big Ten championship game by winning out the rest of the regular season. If they slip up, however (looking at that Ohio State game), that’s where it gets interesting.
The CFB Playoff rankings on Tuesday. I know it’s early, but get your popcorn out.