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College football top 25 countdown: No. 24 Wisconsin

The Badgers, who have played in the last three Rose Bowl games, have enough talent to win the Big Ten title for another trip to Pasadena.

August 04, 2013|Chris Dufresne
  • Will new coach Gary Andersen lead Wisconsin to a fourth consecutive Rose Bowl appearance this season?
Will new coach Gary Andersen lead Wisconsin to a fourth consecutive Rose… (M. Spencer Green, AP )

The Rose Bowl celebrates its 100th game this season and it only seems as if Wisconsin has been in all of them.

The Badgers have actually appeared in only eight but have infiltrated the last three, all defeats.

It would be unkind to suggest folks are rooting against Wisconsin beating a fourth straight path to Pasadena, yet we can faithfully report Ohio State has served its one-year NCAA sentence and is extremely Rose Bowl-eligible in 2013.

College football: In the Aug. 5 Sports section, a chart accompanying an article about Wisconsin as the No. 24 team in Chris Dufresne's preseason rankings said that Ohio State lost the Rose Bowl game four years in a row from 1973 to '76. Ohio State won the game in 1974. —

Two of Wisconsin's last three trips, to be fair, were fine. The Badgers lost a heartbreaker to Texas Christian and a shootout against Oregon.

Last year's trip was more like your oldest child moving back home after college … you again?

Wisconsin arrived with a Rose Bowl-record five losses led by an athletic director who had to search through his desk to find his whistle after Bret Bielema stiff-armed the program by taking the allegedly terrific Arkansas job.

Athletic Director Barry Alvarez, who made the Rose Bowl hall of fame as a former Badgers coach, came out of retirement for one last "throwback" game.

Alvarez coached not to lose but did so anyway to Stanford. He was not going to out-conservative a school that produced Herbert Hoover.

Can Wisconsin make it four straight Rose Bowl losses?

The answer is, gulp, yes.

Alvarez acted quickly in hiring Utah State coach Gary Andersen, whose team nearly defeated Wisconsin last September in Madison.

Andersen led Utah State to a school-record 11 wins last year and inherits a team with enough talent to win another Big Ten title.

"We walked into a program that is absolutely not broke," Andersen said.

There are issues to sort out. Running back should be fine despite the departure of NFL-bound Montee Ball, who rushed for 1,830 yards and 22 touchdowns last season.

There should be little drop-off in returning senior James White and sophomore Melvin Gordon, who combined for 1,427 yards and 15 touchdowns last season. Gordon averaged 10 yards per carry.

The quarterback spot could be settled with rock-paper-scissors. Senior Curt Phillips and sophomore Joel Stave, who shared the position last season, will be joined by promising junior-college transfer Tanner McEvoy.

"We may jog out there the first play of the game with two quarterbacks on the field and see what happens from there," Andersen said.

Phillips, a sixth-year senior who has overcome numerous injures, started six games last season after Stave broke his collarbone. Phillips got the Rose Bowl start against Stanford but was ultimately pulled in favor of Stave.

McEvoy had a rude welcome to Madison when he was mugged July 21 and robbed of his wallet and iPhone. He suffered only minor scrapes and said at Friday's Wisconsin media day that he still loves Madison.

"I was just in the wrong spot at the wrong time," McEvoy said.

Wisconsin returns 14 starters, including star inside linebacker Chris Borland.

"I believe he's the best linebacker in the country in my opinion, from what I've seen," Andersen said.

The schedule is, frankly, Dairy Queen dreamy. It starts with Massachusetts and Tennessee Tech and avoids in Big Ten play Nebraska, Michigan State and Michigan.

There are only two dicey road games: a Sept. 14 nonconference trip to Arizona State and the possible divisional decider at Ohio State in late September.

The countdown so far: No. 25 Oklahoma.">

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