Analyzing the current college football landscape, when one thinks of the top Big Ten schools in the nation Penn State, Michigan and Ohio State all likely come to mind.
PSU (5-0), led by Heisman hopeful running back Saquon Barkley, is currently ranked No. 4 in the nation and the Wolverines (4-0) aren’t that far behind at No. 7.
Ohio State, currently ranked No. 10 in the AP, has one loss but could still hypothetically make a College Football Playoff run. However, the Nittany Lions, Wolverines and Buckeyes aren’t the only schools in that conference making noise.
Specifically, according to ESPN’s FiveThirtyEight — a stats and analytics based website — there’s actually one Big Ten school that’s currently favored over the others to make the 2017-18 CFP. That team is none other than the Wisconsin Badgers, who currently check in at No. 9 in the AP Top 25 after a 4-0 start.
The Badgers have a 26 percent chance to make the CFP, per FiveThirtyEight’s model. While that doesn’t compare to the current top four in their rankings — Alabama (66%), Clemson (55%), Oklahoma (45%) and Washington (40%) — the Badgers are notably the first team outside of the CFP threshold.
When looking at Wisconsin’s 4-0 record that may not be surprising, but it does seem interesting that FiveThirtyEight’s statistical model does give the Badgers a better chance to make the CFP than Penn State — which certainly looks like one of the best teams in the nation and would make the playoffs if they were to start today.
Wisconsin has beaten Utah State, FAU, BYU, and Northwestern so far this season.
Perhaps the major reason the statistical analysis favors the Badgers is the fact that out of the eight games remaining on Wisconsin’s schedule, only one comes against an opponent currently ranked in the Top 25. The Badgers play Michigan in mid-November, but that game will be at Camp Randall and it is sandwiched in between a Michigan road game at Maryland and the Wolverines’ annual clash with Ohio State.