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SportsPulse: USA TODAY Sports’ faculty soccer reporter Paul Myerberg breaks down the most well liked headlines from week 10.
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Wisconsin quarterback Alex Hornibrook (12) fingers off to operating again Jonathan Taylor.(Photo: Jeff Hanisch, USA TODAY Sports)

In the span of 1 hour on Saturday, the Big Ten Conference went from holding a number of avenues to the College Football Playoff to only one. College soccer’s championship push will be merciless to single groups, however hardly ever has a person weekend prompted a lot havoc for one convention specifically.

First fell Ohio State, which noticed its hopes of one other Playoff berth disintegrate beneath Iowa’s 55-point barrage — the worst lack of Urban Meyer’s illustrious teaching profession and the Buckeyes’ most lopsided in-conference defeat since a 63-14 loss to Penn State in 1994. Penn State’s already slim path to a nationwide semifinal was erased by Michigan State’s last-second win, the Nittany Lions’ second loss.

Ohio State is completed, as is Penn State. Michigan already was eradicated from the Playoff chase. The second spherical of Playoff rankings, launched Tuesday night, mirrored this truth: OSU fell seven spots to 13th and Penn State seven spots to 14th, whereas the Spartans, who can win the East Division and convention title however should not a legitimate contender for a top-four end, got here in at 12th.

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It’s no coincidence that the Southeastern Conference’s current slide — with the exceptions of Alabama, faculty soccer’s gold customary, and Georgia, a brand new nationwide participant — was joined by the Big Ten’s rise in nationwide popularity. Once an annual punchline come postseason play, the league has staked declare to standing alongside the SEC as one of the best convention within the Football Bowl Subdivision, if not forward of the pack.

One nightmarish Saturday shouldn’t change that truth: Big Ten play normally is nearly as good as its been in years. In a extra fast sense, nonetheless, the brand new Playoff rankings present the Big Ten to be considered one of faculty soccer’s nice disappointments, as a convention that touted a number of legit Playoff contenders however now should pins its hopes on one crew in particular.

That crew is unbeaten Wisconsin, which rose to No. eight on this week’s ballot after a sluggish win towards Indiana. The Badgers aren’t good, whether or not in efficiency or résumé; this can be a crew with flaws on the sector and off. But they signify the one likelihood the Big Ten holds to badert a semifinal berth for the fourth time in as a few years.

Wisconsin’s largest problem doubles as its best badet: a schedule that raises eyebrows for its lack of spectacular wins is also to thank for the Badgers’ unblemished file. To date, Wisconsin owns one victory towards a Power Five opponent with a successful file, No. 25 Northwestern.

“It’s a concern of the committee as we look to rank the very best teams in the country,” mentioned Playoff choice committee chairman Kirby Hocutt. “When the margins of separation are as razor-thin as they are, strength of schedule factors into these conversations.”

None of the Badgers’ previous 4 Big Ten wins have come towards an opponent with higher than 4 wins. Beyond the Wildcats, only one win has come towards a crew with a successful file — Wisconsin topped Florida Atlantic, the potential champions in Conference USA and one of many surging groups from the Group of Five, in September.

Now examine that résumé with that of one other unbeaten, No. 18 Central Florida. Both groups performed Maryland, and each received handily — the Badgers by 25 factors and the Knights by 28 factors. But UCF can tout 4 wins towards opponents with a successful file: Florida International, Navy, SMU and, most of all, No. 22 Memphis.

“Their strength of schedule is going to continue to be a challenge in positioning them higher,” Hocutt mentioned of UCF.

Yet it’s straightforward to make the case that when it comes to general energy of schedule, UCF leads Wisconsin. That ought to change. The Badgers face No. 20 Iowa on Saturday, after which Michigan every week later. Most of all, Wisconsin will face considered one of Ohio State or Michigan State within the Big Ten championship sport. By the tip of the common season, the Badgers might have a number of wins towards groups ranked within the Playoff rankings.

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Check out the highest 25 groups within the nation in accordance with the Amway College Football Coaches Poll.
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“Every team in our top 25, as well as every team on the cusp of being ranked, has the opportunity either to strengthen or weaken their résumé in the weeks ahead,” Hocutt mentioned. “With that being said, it’s hard to predict — it’s impossible to predict — what’s going to happen in the coming weeks.”

Or possibly not. A loss to Wisconsin can be Iowa’s fourth on the yr, that means the Hawkeyes won’t finish the common season with a nationwide rating. Likewise with Michigan, which might enter the postseason with three or 4 losses. Beating Minnesota will do nothing for the Badgers. And right here’s one other nightmare state of affairs for the Big Ten to think about: Ohio State beats the Spartans this Saturday however loses to Michigan on the ultimate Saturday of November, that means Wisconsin’s opponent within the convention title sport may have no less than three losses.

As if issues couldn’t worsen for the Big Ten. Wisconsin athletics director Barry Alvarez, previously a member of the choice committee, already has laid the groundwork for together with an unbeaten Power Five crew within the prime 4 — even when, as within the Badgers’ case, the general résumé trails compared to fellow Playoff contenders.

“I think that would be very difficult to do,” Alvarez instructed ESPN. “There’s no part of me that says if you go undefeated as a Power Five and win your conference championship, and you’re not going to be in the final four? I don’t see that. That would shock me.”

Don’t be shocked. Instead, be prepared for Wisconsin to be a brand new litmus take a look at because the Playoff enters its fourth yr of existence. It was constructed to signify your entire FBS, or no less than the Power Five conferences, and to “select the best teams,” per the choice committee’s protocol. Records clearly come into play, as do convention championships. But within the case of Wisconsin, would they be sufficient?

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