The Wisconsin Badgers checked in at No. 12 in the USA Today's preseason poll, a position lower than expected. Even though they are a preseason favorite, the Badgers are the second-highest ranked Big Ten team, four spots behind No. 8 Michigan.
Unfortunately for the Badgers, the preseason poll has a major influence on who plays for the BCS National Championship.
Here's a look as to how the USA Today preseason poll affects the Badgers' BCS title hopes.
At No. 12 in the USA Today poll, the Badgers are ranked much lower than anticipated. The Badgers return plenty of talent, including star running back Montee Ball, and as one of the preseason favorites to win the Big Ten title, they should be ranked much higher.
Coming in at No. 12 in the preseason poll is a huge blow to the Badgers' national championship hopes, as they have serious work to do to land in the final two spots of the BCS rankings. By starting the season in the second tier of the preseason poll, the Badgers will have to go undefeated to pass a one loss Alabama or LSU team.
Unfortunately, the Badgers cannot afford a loss if they want to play for the national championship.
The USA Today poll also affected the Badgers' schedule.
Michigan State at No. 13 and Nebraska at No. 16 are the only ranked teams on the Badgers' schedule, severely lowering the Badgers strength of schedule. A low strength of schedule affects the Badgers on a weekly basis in the polls, and consequently will affect the Badgers final spot in the BCS standings.
The Badgers are going to need both Michigan State and Nebraska to be undefeated when they meet in order to maximize Wisconsin's strength of schedule.
Since the Badgers play only two preseason ranked teams, Wisconsin is going to need the other teams on the schedule to play into a ranking. Ohio State and Purdue need to be ranked when the Badgers play them, and Minnesota and Illinois must have respectable records. Additionally, the Badgers must hope that Indiana and Penn State are not in complete free fall.
Strength of schedule will be crucial in the Badgers' final BCS ranking, and Wisconsin will need as much help as possible if they are going to end the SEC's BCS title reign.
The Badgers' low placement in the USA Today preseason poll drastically alters their BCS hopes. Without a high preseason ranking, the Badgers will have a tough time moving up into one of the top spots in the BCS standings. Even if they go undefeated, the Badgers low strength of schedule will hurt their standing.
Instead of having the opportunity to play for the BCS National Championship, the Badgers will have to settle for a third-straight appearance in the Rose Bowl.