No. 8 Wisconsin gave the College Football Playoff Selection Committee something to think about, blasting Iowa 38-14 on Saturday in Madison.
This contest was even more lopsided than the final score would indicate. Yes, the box score says that Iowa scored 14 points. However, both Hawkeye touchdowns were long pick-sixes by Joshua Jackson. The Iowa offense — which racked up 55 points and 487 yards against Ohio State last week — had absolutely no answers for the Wisconsin defense. The Badger D simply dominated this contest.
What do I mean by “dominated”? Just look at the numbers. Wisconsin’s front seven controlled the line of scrimmage all day long, holding the Hawkeye ground game to 25 yards on 26 carries, while recording two sacks. As a result of the constant bombardment of pressure, Iowa completed just eight of 24 passes for a mere 41 yards.
In all, the Badger D gave up just 66 yards. It held Iowa to 0-of-13 on third down and allowed the Hawkeyes to cross the midfield stripe just one time. That drive ended on a TJ Edwards interception, which ended any hope of a potential comeback.
If that doesn’t qualify as a dominating performance, I don’t know what does.
With the win, Wisconsin proved exactly why it belongs in the College Football Playoff discussion. After all, defense wins championships. The Badger D came into this contest as the fifth-best defense in the country, allowing just 267.8 yards per game. Although many college football writers dismissed this number by pointing out that they thought UW played against a weak schedule, the outstanding effort against Iowa leaves no doubt that the Badger defense is one of the best units in the nation.
Will that be enough to get Wisconsin into the field?
Absolutely. Much like Ohio State in 2014, the Badgers can take the decision out of the Selection Committee’s hands by closing out the year strong. Regardless of what the postseason prognosticators say (by the way, how does that “two teams from the SEC” scenario look after Georgia lost 40-17), there’s so way the committee is going to leave out an undefeated team that has one of the best defenses in the nation.
Simply put: all Wisconsin has to do is win, and it’s in.