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The Wisconsin fan’s rooting guide to this weekend’s games

A breakdown of the scenarios that would help and hurt Wisconsin.

Utah v Colorado Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

It all comes down to five games that have a chance to decide the final four of the FBS. Wisconsin absolutely has a chance to make its way into the College Football Playoff by winning, and winning with ease and comfort. But the situation is fluid, especially for the Badgers. A good win, and one assumes that they vault over Michigan in the playoff race.

So what’s the path to get in?

Pac-12: Colorado wins, but doesn’t crush Washington

The Buffaloes have been an inspirational story, and Mike MacIntyre will win many deserved coach of the year awards. As it stands right now, they are probably on the outside looking in for anything but the Rose Bowl even with a victory over Washington. If the Huskies do come out with a Bob Stoops special and the Buffs get a win where they lead by at least 20 for most of the way, two things happen. One, Colorado gets a case for getting itself into the final four, further muddying the waters. Two, Michigan’s win over Colorado gains further transitive, resume-based prestige, making it harder for Wisconsin to vault the Wolverines with a victory.

Big 12: Oklahoma State wins

In a rivalry week game where you can throw the records out, you don’t expect there to be any sort of blowout, but a win by Oklahoma State will likely cause Oklahoma to fall out of the top 10. This helps Wisconsin because it weakens Ohio State’s resume. It will likely not knock Ohio State out, but an Oklahoma win eliminates any gap-closing on the resume between the Badgers and Buckeyes.

Bowl projections: What’s in store for Wisconsin?

SEC: It’s probably best not to worry

An Alabama win—and for all intents and purposes, Alabama’s likely going to win by 30—does nothing to change up expectations. If Florida somehow shocks the world, while the Badgers would still need help from Colorado and/or Virginia Tech, the case could be made for Wisconsin because what kind of messed-up playoff system would have a top two be teams that didn’t win their conference and the Badgers be one of the best two conference champions? So playoffs, please.

ACC: Go Hokies

This is the easy and fun part of the scenario. Clemson is a team that has allowed lesser teams to hang around. which was how they got got by Pittsburgh. Virginia Tech isn’t going to be making the miracle vault to the playoffs. Jerod Evans and the Hokies are playing to become conference champions. They get the win, and some team on the outside looking in gets a playoff berth.

Big Ten: Win and have it be by a somewhat sound margin and/or good TV

Obviously, this is all going to be moot if the Badgers lose Saturday night. Wisconsin winning 9-6 in overtime would be a Rose Bowl clincher. If the Badgers can clearly show themselves to be better than Penn State, the extra quality win would be enough for them to move up one spot. Failing that, outgunning the Nittany Lions in a classic would also potentially be enough for Wisconsin to vault Michigan, for it would likely have last-ups. But winning comfortably would provide the most... comfort.

Short story longer? The Badgers need at least one top-four team to lose and a solid win to make the playoffs. That said, if the Badgers win and end up at No. 5, it’s not a disappointment. The ride they have been on is amazing, and the mere fact the Badgers are in this conversation in December has shown this season to be a success. All that’s left is what happens on the field.