Doc 5: BCS-era number fives -- No. 4 Wisconsin

Sam Cooper
May 7, 2014
Scott Tolzien Montee Ball Wisconsin
Scott Tolzien #16 of the Wisconsin Badgers looks to hand off against the Michigan Wolverines at Michigan Stadium on November 20, 2010 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Wisconsin defeated Michigan 48-28. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

This offseason we will count down various topics from Monday through Friday, bringing you the top five of the important and definitely some not so important issues in college football. It's the Doc Five, every week until we will thankfully have actual games to discuss.

Happy Cinco de Mayo week. As we celebrate the fifth day of the fifth month of the year in our weekly Doc 5 feature, why not stick with the five theme?

This week we're going to rank the top five No. 5s from the BCS era. Why would they be significant? Well, with the new four-team Playoff, these teams would have been the first team left out of a tournament if the BCS rankings were used in lieu of the selection committee.

Yes, we've already redone the BCS with a Playoff this offseason, but we didn't give the No. 5s any love. Now it's time to do that. Let's get started.


No. 4: 2010 Wisconsin

The 2010 Wisconsin Badgers had a prolific ground attack that could have been a nightmare in a College Football Playoff scenario.

In what was Bret Bielema’s fifth season in Madison, the Badgers were the nation’s fifth-best scoring offense, putting up a whopping 41.5 points per game while utilizing a three-headed rushing trio and senior quarterback Scott Tolzien’s steady, accurate passing. Junior John Clay (1,012 yards, 5.4 ypc, 14 TDs), sophomore Montee Ball (996 yards, 6.1 ypc, 18 TDs) and freshman James White (1,052 yards, 6.7 ypc, 14 TDs) put up a combined 3,060 yards and 46 touchdowns as the Badgers cruised through Big Ten play.

The team’s only regular season slip-up was in its first conference game – a road contest at Michigan State in Week 5. The No. 11 Badgers’ defense allowed 444 yards of total offense from the Spartans and let up a 74-yard punt return in the 34-24 loss.

The Badgers bounced back in a big way. A trouncing of Minnesota was followed with the season’s defining moment – a 31-18 home victory over top-ranked Ohio State. David Gilreath brought back the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown to set the tone for the game. Clay and White combined for 179 yards and three touchdowns, and Tolzien completed 81 percent of his passes while the Badgers defense held Terrelle Pryor and the Buckeyes to just three first half points.

The Badgers followed up the OSU win with a narrow, one-point win over No. 13 Iowa on the road, then finished out the Big Ten season by scoring a combined 201 points in dominant wins over Indiana, Michigan and Northwestern.

The Badgers were 11-1 with signature wins over Ohio State and Iowa, but would that loss to Michigan State, a team that finished the regular season with an 11-1 record and ninth in the BCS ranking, keep them out of the top four? Wisconsin’s main competition for that final Playoff spot would have been Stanford, who also registered an 11-1 regular season. The Cardinal’s only setback was a 52-31 road loss to the undefeated and second-ranked Oregon Ducks.

Stanford beat just one ranked team (No. 13 Arizona) during the season and beat several mediocre Pac-10 opponents by a slim margin. Conversely, Wisconsin’s average win margin in Big Ten play was more than 26 points.

You could make the argument that the committee would have chosen the Badgers over Stanford for that fourth spot in the College Football Playoff.

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Sam Cooper is a contributor for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!