With the second batch of College Football Playoff rankings from the selection committee released last night, the undefeated Wisconsin Badgers continue to lag behind the competition as the race is on to finish the season in the top four. Coming in at No. 8 this week, the highest-ranked among Big Ten teams after last week’s results, Wisconsin trails a handful of one-loss teams in addition to three undefeated teams, but Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst isn’t focusing on making any public cases for inclusion in the playoff field at this point in time.
Chryst knows the focus must remain on what’s ahead of Wisconsin in the regular season, and potentially in the Big Ten championship game before any attention can be diverted to the playoff rankings.
“None of it matters until the end,” Chryst said, according to Mitch Sherman of ESPN.com. “And even then, it doesn’t. I think you rob the kids of the moment. They’ve got to enjoy the journey.”
I’ll interject with an opposing point of view on that second comment by Chryst. The playoff rankings actually do matter at the end of the season. In fact, that is the whole purpose of the ranking. Or maybe I’m just reading too much into what Chryst is getting at. If Wisconsin ends the year at 13-0 as the Big Ten champion and is ranked outside the top four, I’m guessing Chryst will have a different take on those final rankings.
But this is Chryst in a nutshell. He is not going to be a coach who will be bothered by factors he cannot control. Most coaches will likely do the same, of course. But Chryst is an observant man and he has seen what has already happened in his own conference with Penn State going from No. 2 in the AP poll to losing two straight games and dropping as far as potentially playing in the Outback Bowl. Ohio State has also lost a second game, getting thrashed by Wisconsin’s next opponent, Iowa. Now, the pressure is on for Wisconsin to find a way to the end of the season to carry the Big Ten flag back to the College Football Playoff.
Chryst isn’t worried about that. He’s just focusing on Iowa.