So far, the college football season has looked like this: Alabama's cruising; Penn State boasts one of the best players in the game; TCU and Georgia are the upstarts; and Clemson, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Ohio State are the potential one-loss party crashers.
Who always seems to be left out of the discussion for the College Football Playoff? Fifth-ranked Wisconsin, the most anonymous and overlooked team of 2017.
At 6-0 (3-0 Big Ten), the Badgers are lurking around the dance floor, scoping out the scene and waiting for the perfect moment to make their move. That might not come until the Big Ten Championship Game against the Big Ten East champion based on the Badgers' schedule moving forward. Whenever it comes, though, they'll do it with confidence, because this team is legit.
Simply put, the is a very "Wisconsin" version of Wisconsin.
Jonathan Taylor has been an absolute beast at running back, averaging 164.33 yards per game on the ground, 7.76 yards per attempt and has actually been better in-conference (182.76 YPG) than against nonnconference foes (Utah State, Florida Atlantic and BYU). He rushed for 219 yards in a win over Purdue on Saturday, and is one of only two FBS running backs with three, 200-yard rushing games this season (Hawaii's Diocemy Saint Juste is the other).
How on Earth is he getting ignored in the Heisman race, while Penn State running back Saquon Barkley and Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett get all of the love out of the Big Ten? Nothing against Barkley and Barrett, but Taylor deserves to be mentioned in the same breath.
Defense? Yep, the Badgers have that, too.
They're fifth nationally in scoring defense (13.3 points per game), sixth in total defense (263.8 yards per game) and 11th in yards per play (4.38). All that despite the fact that they lost senior starting inside linebacker Jack Cichy in mid-August due to a torn ACL. All sophomore Chris Orr, who suffered a torn ACL that knocked him out of the 2016 season, has done in his stead is notch 26 tackles (two for loss) and return a Tanner Lee interception for six against Nebraska.
Quietly explosive ... that's the way Paul Chryst's Badgers go about their business.
Nowhere is that more noticeable than at quarterback, where Alex Hornibrook has tossed 11 touchdowns while completing 65.6 percent of his passes and leading the Big Ten in yards per attempt (9.7). How many quarterbacks in the Big Ten would you have named in that last stat category before landing on the name "Alex Hornibrook?" Three or four, at least.
Anonymity might be part of their identity, but national impact could be in their future.
Wisconsin has road games left vs. Illinois, Indiana and Minnesota; and home games vs. Maryland, Iowa and Michigan. As long as there are no massive injuries to disrupt the season, it will likely be favored in all of those -- yes, even Michigan. Could Wisconsin be the sequel to 2015 Iowa, a team that ran the table and came within 27 seconds of polishing off a perfect season with a Big Ten title and berth in the College Football Playoff? It seems that way.
Or, instead of comparing them to a division foe, perhaps they'd prefer to just be referred to as a very Wisconsin-y version of Wisconsin: anonymous, consistent, punishing and disciplined.
If this keeps up, the anonymity tag could be shed for one that is more fitting -- playoff contender.