The Effect of Illinois' Upset Went Far Beyond Wisconsin

Wisconsin v Illinois
Wisconsin v Illinois / Joe Robbins/Getty Images

With their shocking, last-second victory over Wisconsin, Illinois sent their stadium into hysterics. A 24-23 triumph was not only arguably Illinois biggest victory since beating top-ranked Ohio State in 2007, but it also knocked the dumbfounded Badgers from the ranks of college football's unbeatens.

The Champaign faithful aren't the only fans the country celebrating the falls of Wisconsin...

Despite several close calls to make their fans go, "Aw, jeez!", the Badgers' biggest rivals from Minneapolis are still perfect. They have some work to do if they're going to move up the national polls, but they're now the only unbeaten left in the Big Ten's West division, thus putting them in the driver's seat when it comes to an Indianapolis berth for the conference title game. November will be their big test. Penn State and Iowa loom large and so, of course, does the annual rivalry game with the Badgers. But the Gophers have a prime chance to create some space between themselves and the rest of the division over the next two weeks. They kicked off against woebegone Rutgers shortly after the Illini win and face inconsistent Maryland at home next week.

Florida, Auburn, Oregon
Wisconsin entered this weekend in the bottom portions of the major unbeaten teams (behind Alabama, LSU, Clemson, Ohio State and Oklahoma in the AP poll). With this loss, they'll be involved in a major logjam that features several other elite one-loss squads searching for the College Football Playoff. Unfortunately for the Badgers, they're in a tougher spot than the squads listed above. The group in bold has lost to fellow elite competition, namely each other. (Florida beat Auburn, but lost to LSU, while Oregon lost to Auburn). Wisconsin is more in Georgia's league now, as each lost to mediocre conference also-rans (the Bulldogs lost to South Carolina last week). Remember, it was a loss to Purdue, who finished the year 6-6, that kept conference rival Ohio State out of the CFP last season.

Fans of the Wolverines may be just as upset about the loss as their Badger compatriots are. They, too, are involved in that major one-loss jam in the middle of the rankings, but suddenly their blowout loss at the hands of UW looks much worse in hindsight. Wisconsin made mincemeat of the Wolverine in a 35-14 win, but now the transitive property that dominates these polls dictates that 3-4 Illinois could do the same thing. Michigan does have a big opportunity later on Saturday night against Penn State, but their already-slim CFP chances might already be over.