Wisconsin Badgers athletic director Barry Alvarez doesn't envision a scenario where the College Football Playoff committee will leave an undefeated Power Five conference champion out of the four-team tournament at season's end.
"I think that would be very difficult to do," Alvarez said Monday, per Heather Dinich of ESPN.com. "There's no part of me that says if you go undefeated as a Power Five and win your conference championship, and you're not going to be in the final four? I don't see that. That would shock me."
Alvarez's comments are notable because they directly apply to a situation the Badgers could find themselves in at the end of the 2017 campaign. Dinich explained Wisconsin was No. 9 in the first playoff rankings, which put it behind six one-loss teams at the time and in a precarious position even without a loss.
Selection committee chair Kirby Hocutt explained Wisconsin's strength of schedule is preventing it from moving higher in the rankings.
"Strength of schedule is just not there," Hocutt said, per Dinich. "Their best win in the eyes of the selection committee is against a 5-3 Northwestern team, so the selection committee looks forward to watching Wisconsin continue to play, and looks forward to them playing quality opponents in the weeks ahead."
The Badgers' nonconference slate of Utah State, Florida Atlantic and BYU was uninspiring, especially since the Cougars—typically a strong team—are just 2-8 on the season.
Wisconsin also doesn't face Ohio State, Penn State or Michigan State on this year's Big Ten regular-season slate, although it does face Michigan on Nov. 18 and an Iowa team Saturday that is coming off a stunning 55-24 upset of the Buckeyes.
The Badgers figure to move up in Tuesday's updated rankings after No. 6 Ohio State and No. 7 Penn State each lost their respective games Saturday, although No. 10 Miami is a threat to jump Wisconsin after the Hurricanes beat No. 13 Virginia Tech.
Wisconsin will also have a final shot at making a statement to the committee in the Big Ten Championship Game against the Big Ten East winner. Ohio State and Michigan State lead the East at 5-1 in the conference and will play each other Saturday.