Wisconsin finished off its regular season with a win at Minnesota and a 9-3 record. The Badgers also finished with a spot in the final regular-season Associated Press top 25 poll.
After receiving 21 votes last week following their loss to Northwestern, the Badgers got 124 votes this week, good enough to be ranked No. 25. That’s 77 more votes than the next team, Georgia, which just fired its head coach.
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What changed in a week?
Certainly a win over the now 5-7 Gophers didn’t cause the jump. Just winning did. Four teams in the bottom five of the top 25 lost — Mississippi State, Toledo, UCLA and Washington State — and fell out of the poll, leaving a lot of openings. Wisconsin just filled one of the voids.
We mentioned this last week, but there were only three ways for Wisconsin to end up having beaten a team with a winning record this season and the first two didn’t happen, with Illinois and Nebraska both losing. That leaves just one: the Badgers have to win their bowl game, otherwise they will have lost to every team with a winning record and beaten every team with a losing record.
Does that make a top-25 team? Well, the poll results say so, although perhaps it speaks to the mediocrity of college football this season once you get past, oh, the top 20.
As far as the poll voters this week, there are two I’d like to point out:
— Mike Sorensen of the Detroit News had Wisconsin at No. 21 before the loss to Northwestern and unranked after the defeat. So of course Sorensen has the Badgers at No. 17 (!) this week — the highest ranking of any AP voter.
— Sam McKewon of the Omaha World-Herald is the only voter who ranked Wisconsin last week but did not have the Badgers on the ballot this week. In fact, McKewon had UW on his ballot each of the last six weeks, including No. 21 last week.
Yeah, I don’t get it either.
Here’s a look at the ballots of all the AP voters with a comparison to last week: