How they voted: Badgers in 2016 AP football poll (Final)

In the end, perhaps Wisconsin playing Western Michigan was in fact a lose-lose situation for the Badgers. At least when it comes to the Associated Press top-25 poll.

Wisconsin was ranked No. 8 in the AP’s top 25 before playing No. 12 Western Michigan in the Cotton Bowl. After beating the Broncos, Wisconsin ended up at No. 9 in the final AP poll.

How did this happen?

Neither of the national semifinalists, Ohio State and Washington, played particularly well in losing, but they were national semifinalists so didn’t slip that far. In fact, the Huskies stayed at No. 4 while the Buckeyes went from No. 2 to No. 6 after their 31-0 shellacking at the hands of Clemson.

Then-No. 5 Penn State lost a close Rose Bowl game to USC and moved down just two spots. Meanwhile, the Trojans, who were No. 9, vaulted past Wisconsin to No. 3. No. 3.

Oklahoma was No. 7 and won its bowl game, so it moved to No. 5. Michigan lost a close one to Florida State and slid past the Badgers from 6 to 10. Meanwhile, the Seminoles got 73 more votes than Wisconsin and, like USC, moved ahead of UW at No. 8.

As far as the Badgers go, 26 voters moved Wisconsin down on their ballot from the previous voting while 28 voters had UW at No. 10 or No. 11 on their ballot.

The biggest drop was three spots — and again, I remind you Wisconsin won — by Robert Cessna (8 to 11), Tony Parks (7 to 10), Matt Porter (7 to 10) and Steve Wiseman (8 to 11).

Clearly, that Cotton Bowl win did not impress these voters (and/or not as much as other teams’ victories).

Comparably, 22 voters moved Wisconsin up on their final ballot. The biggest jump was 7 spots — from 11 to 4 — by Jonny Miller, who had Oklahoma No. 3, USC 5, Ohio State 6, Washington 7, FSU 8, Penn State 9, Oklahoma State 10 and Michigan 11 (for reference sake).

While no one thought Wisconsin was the fifth-best team in the country, four voters had the Badgers at No. 6 — Jimmy Burch (from No. 8), Matt Charboneau (8), Josh Kendall (7) and Rob Long (10).

One last thing to keep in mind: In the preseason poll, only seven people had Wisconsin ranked on their ballot, and none as high as No. 14. (For those curious, those voters were Mike Barber 14; Marq Burnett, 18; Jerry DiPaola, 23; Michael Lev, 18; Long, 22; and Miller, 24.)

Other than that preseason poll, Wisconsin appeared on every voter’s ballot the rest of the season (with the only exception being twice when a voter didn’t turn in a ballot). Not too shabby.

Here’s the ballots from the final AP poll compared to the pre-bowl game votes:

Voter Final Week 15
Jonny Miller, WBZ News Radio 4 11
Jimmy Burch, Fort Worth Star-Telegram 6 8
Josh Kendall, The State 6 7
Matt Charboneau, The Detroit News 6 8
Rob Long, WJFK-FM Washington, D.C. 6 10
Bob Asmussen, Champaign News-Gazette 7 10
Ed Daigneault, Republican-American 7 8
Eric Hansen, South Bend Tribune 7 8
Jason Galloway, Wisconsin State Journal 7 8
Mike Barber, Richmond Times-Dispatch 7 7
Nathan Deen, Savannah Morning News 7 9
Ross Dellenger, The Advocate, Baton Rouge 7 9
Chuck Carlton, Dallas Morning News 8 9
Ferd Lewis, Honolulu Star-Advertiser 8 9
Graham Watson, Yahoo Sports 8 9
Joey Knight, Tampa Bay Times 8 8
John Clay, Lexington Herald-Leader 8 8
John Shinn, The Norman (Okla.) Transcript 8 8
Kirk Bohls, Austin American-Statesman 8 9
Mandy Mitchell, WRAL-TV 8 10
Michael Bonner, Jackson Clarion-Ledger 8 8
Pete DiPrimio, Fort Wayne News-Sentinel 8 10
Scott Hamilton, Winston-Salem Journal 8 10
Steve Batterson, Quad City Times 8 8
Tom Murphy, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette 8 8
Bill Landis, Cleveland Plain Dealer 9 7
Dave Southern, Idaho Statesman 9 9
Gary Horowitz, Statesman Journal 9 8
Jeff Miller, Orange County Register 9 9
Joe Dubin, WSMV-TV 9 10
Matt Galloway, Topkea Capital-Journal 9 8
Robert Gagliardi, Wyoming Tribune Eagle 9 10
Adam Zucker, CBS Sports Network 10 9
Andy Greder, St. Paul Pioneer Press 10 8
Brent Axe, Syracuse Post-Standard 10 11
Brett McMurphy, ESPN 10 9
Brian Howell, Daily Camera 10 8
Chris Murray, Reno Gazette-Journal 10 8
Dana Sulonen, Opelika-Auburn News 10 8
David Briggs, Toledo Blade 10 9
Ed Johnson, Albuquerque Journal 10 9
Garland Gillen, WVUE-TV New Orleans 10 10
Garry Smits, Florida Times-Union 10 11
Jerry DiPaola, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review 10 8
Joe Walljasper, Columbia Tribune 10 9
Jon Wilner, San Jose Mercury News 10 7
Keith Sargeant, NJ.com 10 9
Marc Weiszer, Athens Banner-Herald 10 10
Matt McCoy, WTVN-AM Columbus 10 9
Matt Porter, Palm Beach Post 10 7
Michael Lev, Arizona Daily Star 10 9
Mitch Vingle, Charleston Gazette-Mail 10 8
Pat Caputo, Oakland Press 10 9
Patrick Brown, Chattanooga Times Free Press 10 8
Sam McKewon, Omaha World-Herald 10 9
Tony Parks, KZNS 10 7
Adam Jude, Seattle Times 11 10
Robert Cessna, Bryan-College Station Eagle 11 8
Scott Wolf, Los Angeles Daily News 11 9
Steve Wiseman, Durham Herald-Sun 11 8
Marq Burnett, SEC Country n/a* 10

* — Burnett did not turn in a ballot

Dave Heller is the author of the upcoming book Ken Williams: A Slugger in Ruth’s Shadow as well as Facing Ted Williams Players From the Golden Age of Baseball Recall the Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived and As Good As It Got: The 1944 St. Louis Brownsasdf