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Next Gophers opponent: Wisconsin outside looking in at BCS

  • Article by: BENJAMIN WORGULL
  • Associated Press
  • November 12, 2013 - 6:49 AM

MADISON, Wis. — No. 17 Wisconsin has won four straight games and has a record to be proud of in November dating back to 2006. It might not matter much in the BCS bowl race this season.

The Badgers are 22nd in the latest BCS standings.

With three Big Ten games remaining, two against opponents with at least four losses, including its home game this weekend against Indiana (4-5, 2-3), it's conceivable that the Badgers could win their final seven games, not suffer a loss since Sept.28 and still be the outside the top 14 of the BCS.

"In the back of everyone's head, they're wondering what's going on with the standings because we do care what bowl game we play in," said senior safety Dezmen Southward. "It's hard not to think about what possibly games you could play in, but our job as players has to take it one game at a time. If we don't we won't be as successful as we have the past six weeks."

Since the start of the 2006 season, Wisconsin is 24-5 in November games. Following its 27-17 win over BYU on Saturday, Wisconsin (7-2, 4-1 Big Ten) rose four spots in the AP poll, the biggest leap it's made this season, Wisconsin has won eight straight against Indiana by an average margin of 35.4 points per game.

The Hoosiers have a high-powered offense under third-year head coach Kevin Wilson, leading the conference and ranked 12th nationally with 327.4 passing yards per game. They will likely be without sophomore running back Tevin Coleman (ankle), who leads the Big Ten in rushing touchdowns (12) and is third in the conference in rushing yards per game (106.4) and per carry (7.31).

"He's physical. He's tough minded, he's very fast," Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen said of Coleman. "He's outran a lot of defenses. It's four or five runs of 40-plus yards this year for touchdowns. They'll miss him, but they've got other talented kids to go around."

Since the start of the BCS in the 1998 season, the Badgers have won 144 games, the 11th-most of any BCS team, and are one of just 13 programs to have won at least 70 percent of their games (144-59) during that time period. Andersen continues to avoid analyzing his team's seemingly perilous position in the rankings, but acknowledges the importance to the players to finish the regular season on a positive note.

"Everybody wants to play in as big a bowl and as big a stage as you can at the end of the year," said Andersen. "No one's ever going to say we don't want that in any way, shape, or form.

"As this team continues, they've labeled themselves as a good team, and they deserve it. Right now, if it was over, they'd be known as a good team regardless of what happens. They want to be a great team. If they're a great team, then they're going to play in a very, very prestigious bowl game at the end of the year wherever it may be."

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