NCAAF Teams
Mitch Sherman, ESPN Staff Writer 14d

Paul Chryst: CFP rankings 'rob the kids of the moment'

College Football, Wisconsin Badgers

MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin Badgers players and coach Paul Chryst responded Wednesday with indifference to a perceived slight by the College Football Playoff selection committee.

Chryst, in fact, did not know that the Badgers landed at No. 8 in Tuesday's updated rankings -- up one spot from last week but jumped by fellow unbeaten Miami.

Told that Wisconsin (9-0, 6-0 Big Ten) trailed four one-loss teams, Chryst shrugged.

"What's that mean?" he said. "It's cool. I'm not trying to downplay it. There's interest, and it's cool. But for the kids and for us, all that matters is trying to maximize this week.

"None of it matters until the end. And even then, it doesn't. I think you rob the kids of the moment. They've got to enjoy the journey."

Wisconsin hosts No. 20 Iowa on Saturday, and the Badgers can clinch a share of the Big Ten West Saturday and a spot in the conference title game with a victory.

Iowa is the Badgers' first ranked opponent this season prior to kickoff, with Wisconsin still having games remaining against Michigan and Minnesota.

A popular narrative nationally asks if the committee could omit an undefeated Big Ten champion from the four-team playoff. The conference features six ranked teams this week, the most of any conference and the most for the Big Ten since November 2015.

The winner of the Big Ten East,. however, will enter the title game with at least two losses after Ohio State and Penn State were upset last week.

Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez, a former CFP committee member, told ESPN this week that a scenario in which an undefeated Power 5 champion did not make the New Year's Day semifinals would "shock" him.

Meanwhile, the Badgers said they remained focused only on Iowa.

"They came out last week and put a butt-whooping on Ohio State," outside linebacker Garret Dooley said of the Hawkeyes' 55-24 win over the then-No. 6 Buckeyes.

Said defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard: "It's easy to get your guys focused a week after something like that happens."

Several of the Wisconsin players said they watched the CFP selection show Tuesday night.

"If we keep winning," linebacker Leon Jacobs said, "the rest will take care of itself."

Nevertheless, the Badgers hear talk of their tenuous situation even while trying to avoid it.

"It's on Twitter and Instagram," safety Natrell Jamerson said. "You see it, but for us on the team -- I know for me -- I don't really care about it. We can't control how anybody votes. All I care about is that we keep winning."

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