For the Badgers the math is easy, but the task looks to be hard.
With four games left in the season, Wisconsin must win at least three of its remaining contests in order to be eligible for a bowl game.
If the Badgers should fail to win the majority of their next four games, it would be the first time since 1997 that the team hasn’t qualified for a bowl berth.
Since 1992, when UW finished 5-6, the Badgers have traveled to three Rose Bowls (1994, 1999, 2000), the 1995 Hall of Fame Bowl, the 1996 Copper Bowl, the 1998 Outback Bowl and the 2000 Sun Bowl.
As UW wide receiver Lee Evans said, going to a bowl game has become a tradition for Wisconsin football, something that’s expected to happen.
“It’s one of those things you’ve become accustomed to,” Evans said. “In not that we expect to go out there and just be given (a bowl berth). Everybody’s putting in a lot of work and a lot of time, and for us not to get that pay off in the end — it’s like a big reality check.”
To make a successful run at another bowl bid, Badgers’ head coach Barry Alvarez is refusing to look ahead and is sticking to what he has preached to his team all season.
“I know it’s an old coaching cliché, my whole approach is … let’s concentrate on this game, let’s concentrate on this practice, let’s concentrate on your next play,” Alvarez said.
But according to quarterback Jim Sorgi, that philosophy is easier said than done.
“We really haven?t been in the situation where we had to win three out of four games,” Sorgi said of his team’s predicament. “We try not to look at it, you try to take it one game at a time, but it’s kind of tough because you’re thinking ‘OK, we play Michigan State, then Iowa, then we?ve got a bye week and then come back against Michigan. You try to put it out of your head, but sometimes it gets tough.”
Although Sorgi admits it’s hard to follow Alvarez’s desire of taking it one game at a time, he does acknowledge that it is the right approach.
As the sophomore said, if you look at the big picture, knowing that you have to win three out of four games, as soon as you fall behind in one of those games, the pressure to battle back to secure the win is going to cause you to play worse.
However, if Wisconsin follows Alvarez’s advice and takes it one game at a time, the pressure won’t be as significant, and it will be easier to correct mistakes on the field.
Another motivation for this Badger squad to win is a successful send-off for the senior class. While the future Badger teams look to be strong with so many players returning, there are a few who will not. And according to Sorgi, this is why it’s so important that UW makes it to a bowl game.
“You want to [make it to a bowl game] for yourself and for the team, but you want to do it for [the seniors],” Sorgi said. “These are guys that have been here, that have been to a bowl game every year. It’s important to them that they go out a winner.”
The motivation is there for this team, but according to Alvarez that isn’t quite enough.
“It doesn’t make any difference what anybody thinks, it’s what we do,” Alvarez said.