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Wisconsin: Why Ranking Teams Is Getting Effing Hard

Okay, I'm confused about something. What is it that other bloggers see in Wisconsin that I don't? The right and honourable SMQ has the Badgers at #9. Our good friends at MZone have Wisconsin at #10. BlogPollers collectively have slotted Wisconsin at #11.

What's befuddling is that the Badgers have earned these high rankings despite just one win over a Top 40 team (that would be Penn State; sorry, Iowa). Comare that, to, say, Boise State, who has two wins over Top 40 teams (Oregon State and Hawaii), or Wake Forest (Clemson and Boston College). Neither the Broncos nor the Deamons are enjoying as much love as the Badgers, and for the life of me, I can't figure out why.

Could it be margin of victory? That might explain the preference of Wisconsin (+20.6 points margin of victory) to Wake Forest (+11.3 points), but not to Boise State (+24.2).

Wisconsin does enjoy an advantage in -overall- strength of schedule (#59 according to Sagarin's ratings, as opposed to #75 for Wake Forest and #98 for Boise State). Two things stick out, though. First, Wisconsin would give back a big part of that schedule advantage if Michigan isn't taken into account. Second, even if the overall strength of schedule is marginally better, the lack of wins over Top 40 teams is still highly troubling.

Why is Wisconsin getting this additional love from BlogPoll voters? What separates Wisconsin from Boise State and Wake Forest? As far behind some voters as I am in my ranking/thinking on Wisconsin, I'm left wondering if there's something (perhaps obvious) that I'm missing. Or if it's everyone else that's drinking some delicious glass of Kool Aid that I simply haven't been offered yet.

To be fair to the aforementioned SMQ, upon re-reading his ballot explanation, I see that SMQ notes that the bumping up of Wisconsin is done with trepidation. And he asks some of the same questions I'm raising now. But they remain largely unanswered, and if SMQ is too unsure to explain why the Badgers deserve a higher ranking, then perhaps one of the other balloters who is boosting up Wisconsin well above other similarly-resumed teams can make the case.

And lastly, to be fair to the BlogPoll collectively, the two teams with the greatest standard deviation among ballots are... you guessed it: Boise State (4.2) and Wisconsin (3.6).

This sh*t is hard.