Ouch, Wisconsin! Badgers take a tumble on Steve Wiseman’s AP Top 25 ballot

A huge game in the Big Ten, with College Football Playoff implications, looms on the last Saturday of October.

It’s OK for media and fans to talk about looking forward to that game. It’s a problem when a team does that.

Oops, Wisconsin.

With a game at Ohio State a week away, the Badgers suffered their first defeat of the season this past Saturday and it was a bad one -- a 24-23 loss at Illinois.

This is the same Illini team that entered the game on a four-game losing streak, a skid that started with a 34-31 home loss to Eastern Michigan.

Yeah. That’s a head-shaking loss for the Badgers (6-1) to absorb and, on my ballot, it drops them out of the top 10.

Moving on, another Big Ten team has put itself in position to challenge for the four-team playoff.

I still have Clemson (7-0), Alabama (7-0), LSU (7-0) and Oklahoma (7-0) as my top four with Ohio State (7-0) close behind at No 5.

Penn State (7-0), after topping Michigan 28-21 this past Saturday night, is now No. 6. Ohio State and Penn State play on Nov. 23 in Columbus, Ohio, which could be an elimination game for CFP consideration.

That’s, of course, if neither stumbles along the way like Wisconsin did.

Elsewhere down the ballot, top-25 teams Boise State, Michigan, Arizona State, Missouri and Washington joined Wisconsin as ranked teams losing this weekend.

Missouri’s awful 21-14 loss at Vanderbilt probably matches Wisconsin’s loss as the worst of the season. The Tigers rightfully fall off my ballot.

Michigan and Arizona State lost to fellow ranked teams (Penn State and Utah). So, too, did Washington, which fell 35-31 to Oregon. That gives the Huskies three losses which means they won’t be ranked on my ballot.

Wake Forest and Iowa State replace Missouri and Washington on my ballot.

The Demon Deacons (6-1) beat Florida State 22-20 after losing to Louisville the week before, so they deserve another shot at No. 24.

FloridaStWakeForestFootball (1).JPG
Wake Forest wide receiver Scotty Washington keeps his balance as he runs over Florida State defensive back Asante Samuel Jr. (26) after a catch in the second half of an NCAA college football game in Winston-Salem, N.C., Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. Wake Forest won 22-20. (AP Photo/Nell Redmond) Nell Redmond AP

I had Iowa State ranked in the preseason but dropped them out in September. But the Cyclones (5-2) are on a three-game winning streak and their only losses are 18-17 to Iowa and 23-21 at Baylor. Both of those teams are ranked so Iowa State deserves to be too -- this week anyway.

Here is the ballot I submitted to the AP on Sunday morning (with last week’s ranking on my ballot in parenthesis).

Steve Wiseman’s AP top 25 ballot

  1. Clemson (1)

  2. Alabama (2)

  3. LSU (3)

  4. Oklahoma (4)

  5. Ohio State (5)

  6. Penn State (7)

  7. Florida (8)

  8. Georgia (9)

  9. Notre Dame (10)

  10. Auburn (11)

  11. Oregon (12)

  12. Utah (15)

  13. Wisconsin (6)

  14. Baylor (17)

  15. Texas (14)

  16. Minnesota (21)

  17. SMU (20)

  18. Cincinnati (19)

  19. Michigan (18)

  20. Appalachian State (22)

  21. Arizona State (16)

  22. Iowa (23)

  23. Boise State (13)

  24. Wake Forest (NR)

  25. Iowa State (NR)

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An Illinois native, Steve Wiseman has covered Duke athletics since 2010 for the Durham Herald-Sun and Raleigh News & Observer. Prior to his arrival in Durham, he worked for newspapers in Columbia and Spartanburg, S.C., Biloxi, Miss., and Charlotte covering beats including the NFL’s Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints, University of South Carolina athletics and the S.C. General Assembly.