2021 Wisconsin badgers may have multiple paths to reach CFP

It’s not often that you hear the Wisconsin Badgers in the same sentence as college football playoffs.

The team have come close a few times, most notably in the 2017 season where a victory over Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship would have pushed the Badgers to 12-0 and put them into the playoffs.

But that will always be the way for Wisconsin to make the cut: win the Big Ten West, avoid multiple losses in the regular season, and beat Ohio State in the championship game.

This year, however, there might be another way for the Badgers to do it.

Tom Fornelli of CBSSports walked the college football calendar last week and noted which games will have the greatest impact on the college football playoff run.

For Fornelli, Wisconsin‘s Week 4 contest at Soldier Field against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish is the game to be favorite. The Badgers and Fighting Irish were supposed to face off at Lambeau Field last season, although schedule changes related to COVID-19 canceled the game.

Related: Report: Wisconsin Lambeau Field Contest With Notre Dame Has Been Postponed

Here’s what he had to say about the contest, as well as the Badgers’ CFP chances:

It’s the biggest game of a week that doesn’t have a lot of headlining games. I don’t think a lot of people expect the Irish to be as good this season as they were last year, but it’s still Notre Dame, and it’s a trademark game against one of the best in the Big Ten. This is the kind of victory the Irish need on their CV.

And we shouldn’t reject Wisconsin. The Badgers are the favorites in the Big Ten West Division, and if they won the division, a victory in this game would strengthen their resume. Think about it, if the Badgers reach Indianapolis and beat Ohio State, they’ll likely go to the CFP. But what if they lose close to Ohio State, and it’s their only loss with a win over the Irish on the CV? They will have an affair.

So this year, now that Wisconsin is playing a college football powerhouse at Notre Dame as part of one of their non-conference games, there may be two paths for them to make the playoffs.

  • Option # 1: Win the Big Ten West, enter the playoffs with a loss, beat Ohio State, Penn State or anyone else in the Big Ten Championship
  • Option # 2: Go undefeated in the regular season (including a win over Notre Dame), lose a loved one in the Big Ten Championship

Option # 2 is not a safe bet, as a lot will depend on what happens to other teams across the country. But in any other year, non-conference games don’t carry much weight for the postseason standings.

With Notre Dame on the program, the Badgers have a real chance to prove themselves before the CFP committee and enter the discussion usually dominated by Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, Oklahoma, Florida. and Notre Dame.

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