MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin football fans who felt the Badgers were robbed of a victory last month at Arizona State now have another reason to complain: UW is not included in the initial Bowl Championship Series top 25 standings.
The poll, released Sunday, lists three two-loss SEC teams — South Carolina, Texas A&M and LSU — and has Big Ten teams Michigan and Nebraska slotted, too. But Wisconsin (5-2), with losses to Arizona State and BCS No. 4 Ohio State, is on the outside looking in.
A big reason for the Badgers’ fall is a 32-30 loss against Arizona State in which referees bungled the final play sequence. If handled properly, Wisconsin would have had an opportunity to kick a potential game-winning 32-yard field goal in the final seconds. Instead, Wisconsin has a mountain to climb if it hopes to earn an at-large BCS berth.
Wisconsin must win at least nine games and sneak in the top-14 of the BCS standings for a crack at a BCS bowl.
The BCS is made up of three components: the Harris Interactive Poll, the USA Today coaches poll and a separate set of numbers that calculates six different rankings. That component discards the highest and lowest ranking and assigns a 1-25 ranking for the four remaining computer scores.
Wisconsin ranks No. 24 in both the Harris and coaches polls but suffers because of the third set of calculations that involve the six separate rankings.
It would be enough to make some coaches blow a gasket. But Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen said he hadn’t spent any time thinking about it.
“Someone asked me that, does it worry me that we’re not ranked in the BCS?” Andersen said Monday during his weekly news conference. “I would have no idea what the BCS poll even was, if we were in it or we weren’t in it, if you didn’t bring it up to me this morning when we were talking.
“Do I think it’s harder? No, I don’t think so. Again, I’m only going to worry about the things I can worry about and try to get the kids ready to go play every single week. I haven’t really put any thought into that. I’ve been to two BCS bowl games in my life, and at the end of the year, they were really good teams. If you’re really good at the end of the year, you probably have an opportunity here to go to a BCS bowl.”
Ohio State ranks No. 4 in the initial BCS standings, and unless the Buckeyes can work their way into the top two via losses by Alabama, Florida State and Oregon, they’ll be headed to the Rose Bowl.
That leaves the Orange Bowl, Sugar Bowl and Fiesta Bowl as possible BCS destinations for the Badgers — provided Wisconsin can win out and make a monumental jump in the BCS polls. Without sneaking into the top 14, Wisconsin could be looking at a spot in the Capital One Bowl as the Big Ten’s second-best team.
French update: Andersen was asked Monday to clarify the process by which he and kicker Kyle French decided French would not go out for the team next season. French announced on his Facebook page Thursday night that he would not be back, thus opening up a scholarship for another player.
Andersen spoke about French’s future but did not directly address how the two came to the decision.
“There’s really no situation other than the fact of the matter is he’s in a position to where he wants to potentially finish his degree, which is the most important thing to me, and it’s a good spot for him to play this year out,” Andersen said. “We discussed life, just like I always do with every kid that’s in the program. It matters to me. I want them to do what’s best for them.
“I think he believes he’s moving in the right direction for the football team, number one, for himself and football for the rest of the season, and for himself in the future as he prepares to go in the direction he’s going in years to come. He knows he’s got my support. He knows I’m there for him, and I will be just as I am today and 10 years from now.
“He’s a great kid, and he’s going to be part of this team as we move forward. So I really believe that, and we sat down and talked about it, just like I say, with numerous kids in numerous situations. Kids’ lives change every single day. Doesn’t always go the way we want it to just like our lives do. He’s a great kid. I’m here to support him, and he knows that. I think his teammates are here to support him also.”
French, a redshirt junior, has struggled with his consistency the past two seasons and lost his starting spot as the team’s field-goal and extra-point kicker after missing a 38-yard field goal attempt wide left against Northwestern. He was replaced by sophomore Jack Russell, who started against Illinois on Saturday. Russell made all eight of his extra-point tries and did not attempt any field goals.
According to a Wisconsin spokesperson, French will have completed his undergraduate work before the fall. He is a double major in personal finance and economics. Borland back: Andersen said Wisconsin’s second bye week came at a good time because it allowed linebacker Chris Borland to recuperate from a right hamstring injury he suffered Saturday against Illinois. Borland leads the team with 57 tackles. No other player has more than 34 tackles.
“Chris should be fine,” Andersen said. “I texted him actually last night. He returns very simple with, ‘Coach, I’ll be ready for Iowa.’ That’s what he said. That’s what I know.
We’ll see on the field.”
Andersen said he did not know if Borland would still be Wisconsin’s long-range field-goal kicking option moving forward. Borland was set to take on that role for the Illinois game if the opportunity arose before he suffered his injury.