If all goes according to seeding, the College Football Playoff will feature one undefeated team (Alabama) and three one-loss teams (Clemson, Washington and the winner of Ohio State-Michigan). But if just one upset happens, that neat playoff picture gets very messy.
The teams ranked 6–11 all have two losses, and each of them except for No. 11 Louisville can still win its conference. Even if no upsets happen, as long as Ohio State beats Michigan and Penn State beats Michigan State on Saturday, No. 6 Wisconsin will battle No. 7 Penn State for the Big Ten title.
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With the Badgers, Nittany Lions, No. 8 Oklahoma, No. 9 Colorado and No. 10 Oklahoma State all still holding opportunities to play their way into the top four and become the first two-loss team to make the playoff, which one has the best shot? SI.com and FOXSports.com college football experts make their picks.
Andy Staples, SI: Wisconsin
It has to be Wisconsin. Penn State needs Ohio State to beat Michigan to reach the Big Ten title game. The Nittany Lions can't control that. Wisconsin can control if it beats Minnesota, and the Badgers can control whether they beat Michigan, Ohio State or Penn State in Indianapolis. After that, it's up to the committee. But a Big Ten title in this particular season may do the trick.
The Badgers are the highest-ranked two-loss team now. I think I'd pick them over Penn State if they play in the title game. Also, I just don't see the Big Ten getting left out of the playoff this year. There are four B1G teams in the top 7. That's a lot more perceived strength than any other conference in college football.
Stewart Mandel, FOX Sports: Wisconsin
As the highest rated two-loss team already, the Badgers will have a chance to win the Big Ten title and beat a top 10 team to do it. One Washington loss, and they will be in great shape.
Lindsay Schnell, SI: Wisconsin
Let me tell you what I have learned this month living in these United States of America: Never underestimate the power of Wisconsin. The likely winner of the Big Ten West would surely get a significant bump in the CFP rankings if it won the conference championship game, which I think the Badgers can do. A few other things would have to happen for Wisconsin to creep in (like chaos in the Pac-12, which will likely eliminate that conference), but don't be surprised if it happens.
Brian Hamilton, SI: Wisconsin
The committee already holds Wisconsin in pretty high esteem, and the Badgers are in position to bolster that esteem. A win over Minnesota on Saturday might not count for much. But Penn State (assuming form holds this weekend) would qualify as another high-quality opponent in the Big Ten title game. So you'd have a two-loss team with a conference championship who suffered one defeat in overtime and one by a single score on the road to teams currently in the committee's top three. Wisconsin can do enough over the final two weekends to fend off other two-loss teams making their case late.
Joan Niesen, SI: Wisconsin
A win in Indianapolis would give the Badgers quite the case for a playoff spot, and I think it's perfectly feasible. After all, Wisconsin took Ohio State to overtime before losing and also lost a one-touchdown game to Michigan in the final seconds.