Andersen: Badgers are BCS-worthy

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By Jeff Potrykus
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Wednesday, November 27, 2013

MADISON--Gary Andersen isn’t comfortable grabbing a bullhorn, climbing to the pulpit and barking out to poll voters and computer programmers that the Wisconsin football team is worthy of a Bowl Championship Series at-large berth.

Asked in recent weeks to share his thoughts on UW’s gradual climb up the BCS standings, Andersen has steered he conversation to the importance of the players focusing on winning games on the field rather than studying bowl projections.

The topic was broached again Monday, one day after UW jumped four spots to No.15 in the BCS standings.

Teams with at least nine victories in the top 14 of the BCS are eligible for an at-large berth and UW (9-2, 6-1 Big Ten) could meet those standards with a victory over Penn State (6-5, 3-4) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium.

Andersen didn’t lobby for UW but did say if the Badgers defeat Penn State to close the regular season at 10-2 they will be worthy of a BCS berth.

“Absolutely,” he said. “Again, I don’t have a bunch of say in that, but I do believe that.

“I don’t get into the formulas. I don’t know the formulas. But I would be in full support if they got that opportunity.”

Several UW players agreed that the Badgers, who have won their last six games by an average margin of 23.8 points per game since suffering a seven-point loss at unbeaten Ohio State, will be worthy of a BCS berth with a victory over Penn State.

“I think our play speaks for itself,” senior linebacker Chris Borland said. “I think we’ve put together a run. We’re playing well in all phases.

“We really are a one-loss team in reality.”

Borland, of course, was referring to UW’s 32-30 loss at Arizona State in Week 3. In that game, missteps by the officials in the final seconds prevented UW from spiking the ball to set up for a 32-yard field-goal attempt before time expired.

“We shouldn’t have put ourselves in (this) position in the first place,” senior tight end Jacob Pedersen said. “If we didn’t lose those first two games, we’d be right there already.

“We know that getting there, we have to go through Penn State first. I think Senior Day overrides that. Senior Day is like a bowl game. It is a huge day. There’s a lot of things at stake for us this week.”

Several analysts have UW projected to be in the Orange Bowl as an at-large pick.

UW still needs to defeat Penn State and get help. The one result that would crush UW’s BCS chances would be a Michigan State victory over Ohio State in the Big Ten title game.

Michigan State (10-1, 7-0) is No.11 in the BCS standings, and a victory over the Buckeyes would send them to the Rose Bowl. Ohio State, No.3 in the BCS standings, would be in line for an at-large berth, and UW likely would head to Orlando for the Capital One Bowl.

“There’s not many teams that get shafted,” senior safety Dezmen Southward said when asked about the BCS. “For the most part, things will work themselves out the right way — if you go out and win. That is the first thing we have to do and everything else hopefully will take care of itself.”

What about the scenario in which Ohio State defeats Michigan State in the Big Ten title game and UW finishes at 10-2 but misses out on a BCS berth?

“We would definitely be shafted, officially shafted,” Southward said, smiling. “But that’s not something we can do right now. The only thing we can do is go out and play really hard and try to get this last win.

“I truly see us in a good spot if we can take care of business.”

That is what Andersen wants to see this week.

“We won’t address that as a team,” he said of the BCS ramifications. “They’ll play. They know the importance of it. I want them to go play for each other and play for what’s important.”

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