2014 was an interesting season for Wisconsin. There's a new/old face in town as head coach, and the mighty SEC University- Auburn Tigers were beat in batshit insane fashion (Joel Stave on 4th down! Fat Brazilian kicker FTW). Let's go back to the start of a mostly successful season for Wisconsin.
Proven Bowl game winner (Deity status TBD)
Wisconsin started the non-conference slate with a tough loss* (damn you Melvin Gordon "injury") to LSU in Dallas. I doubt I have ever had my soul crushed so methodically by anything more than watching Tanner McEvoy attempt to complete passes. Speaking of Tanner McEvoy and the Melvin Gordon injury, a lot of Badger fans aren't going to miss Andersen's inability to deal with the media. It just seemed like he didn't think that everything he said would be scrutinized. Which of course in Madison, and most if not all Big Ten schools, everything you say will be. In that sense, the move to Corvallis will probably be of benefit to him, since you can apparently fly under the radar managing to win nine games once in a while (lol Nebraska, but that's an entirely different discussion). The near miss against LSU really did show what this team was about with Melvin Gordon, Melvin Gordon, and the occasional Corey Clement on offense. While the defense was stout against the run, they could be exposed on big passing plays. OH AND THAT FAKE PUNT UGH.
The rest of non-conference could not have been more bland, although Melvin Gordon touchdown runs are always fun, and McEvoy showed he's a really good FCS quarterback by setting the school record for consecutive completions against Western Illinois. Also of note, WIU managed to hold MG3 to 43 yards, which leads me to believe he was really hurting against LSU. Wins against Bowling Green and USF didn't really move the needle. I should note it is fun to laugh at Indiana for losing to a team that Wisconsin rushed for 644 yards against in a 68-17 win.
To begin Big Ten play, the Badgers headed to a stadium that apparently means more in terms of home field advantage than TCF Bank or Kinnick Stadium ever will. That horrible place is of course Ryan Field. The return of Stave might've been a bright spot, except that just magnifies how awful McEvoy played (4-10, 24 yards with a pick). Not to mention, he threw three interceptions of his own. Peter Carroll totally stole a page out of the Gary Andersen playbook for the Super Bowl, and not a good one either... RUN THAT DADGUM FOOTBAWL DOWN THEM THROATS FER CHRISTSAKES.
As the conference slate wore on, the Badgers gave up a few garbage TDs (which aren't nice things, by rule) to Illinois. Then came destroying the new kids on the block in the same manner that Nebraska got a good ole Wisconsin welcome. BY RUNNING THAT DADGUM FOOTBAWL DOWN THEM THROATS FER CHRISTSAKES. Combined score against Maryland and Rutgers: 89-7. Following that came a fairly disappointing game against Purdue. Sure Wisconsin won 34-16, but it just never felt like they played that well.
QUADRANGLE OF HATE TIME
This was the part of the season that would be the difference between success and failure for the Badgers before the season even began, and the circles on the schedule proved to be accurate. Sure LSU was a big game, but the Axe, the Pig, and the Freedom Trophy (I mean I guess, even though the loser should really get that thing) must remain in Madison for all eternity. The Axe has been in Madison for so long it is about to qualify for retirement benefits as a state employee #sickburn. It got snowy for the Nebraska game, but that didn't stop the Badgers from running away with the game 59-24 /Wisconsin scored again. Melvin Gordon set an unbreakable record in three quarters, which was promptly broken the next week. Of course playing in Kinnick is never easy, but the Badgers broke the hearts of Hawkeye fans everywhere anyway. I didn't get to see much of this game, and I'm glad I didn't because based on what I heard/read, I would have thrown my phone out the window. Jake Ruddock picking a defense apart is unacceptable, and I haven't thrown my phone out the window since the 2011 Rose Bowl. RUN THAT DADGUM FOOTBAWL DOWN THEM THROATS FER CHRISTSAKES. Hey Minnesota, we still have the Axe, better luck next year.The number one song the last time Minnesota beat Wisconsin
The Big Ten Championship Game was unfortunately not played last season, yet weirdly Ohio State was crowned Big Ten Champions... Wait... I'm being told that it was actually played, and Wisconsin lost 59-0. I'm also being told that I called 3 different ex-girlfriends that night because "I'll probably score more than Wisconsin has tonight." Your humble Wisconsin correspondent was blacked out by halftime.
Speaking of drinking and football, who had the genius idea of putting a Wisconsin football game on at 11 a.m. on New Year's Day? Way to go Delany, the bars can legally be open until 6 a.m. on New Year's Eve/Day in Wisconsin. Which also happens to be when bars can legally open in Wisconsin (the more you know). I have multiple sources who can confirm that staying up through the game was really the only way to ensure being up for the game, sobriety be damned. Cameron Artis-Payne proved that SEC players really aren't that smart by saying "I'd rush for 2,000 yards in the Big Ten", then promptly getting held to almost exactly half (251 to 126) as many yards as Gordon. Bulletin board material is never a good thing, why give it to the undisputed greatest running back/player in the annals of college football? The Badgers were able to start the dismantling the Big Ten's most unfortunate reputation of not being so good at football, while simultaneously taking the SEC down a peg. This will likely end up being a very under appreciated game as far as the program goes. I would know since I'm the greatest college football historian, and ever totally capable of making such comments two months after the game.
In all, there is a lot of good to take away from an 11 win season. Cheers to Melvin Gordon and the seniors, thanks for the memories. As we look forward to the 2015 season, the Paul Chryst era is upon us, and the future looks good for Wisconsin football.