Can the Badgers Win Big in the 4th Quarter Again in 2014?
The Badgers scored 453 points while surrendering just 212 in 2013, with their greatest success coming in the fourth quarter. In fact, they outscored opponents 120-56 in the final 15 minutes of the game, their largest point differential of any quarter. They were especially dominant at home, holding an impressive 66-14 edge over opponents following “Jump Around” at Camp Randall Stadium.
Wisconsin even outscored both Ohio State and Penn State 10-0 and 10-7, respectively, in the fourth quarter in what ended up being a loss on both occasions.
While their schedule isn’t exactly grueling and there are several opportunities for them to cruise to easy wins, the Badgers still may need to work their fourth quarter magic once again if they are to have a successful season and possibly win the Big Ten West title in 2014.
Wisconsin’s season of course starts with a bang when they face the LSU Tigers down at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas, which has the potential to be a thrilling, down-to-wire affair. The Badgers also close out the regular season with a trio of games against Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota, each of which could have major Big Ten West implications.
If any or all of these contests end up being decided in the fourth quarter, Wisconsin will need to show poise down the stretch, which could be problematic for the Badgers.
Wisconsin will be able to rely on stud running back Melvin Gordon to generate a lot of offense, but the Badgers may need their passing attack to step up in the clutch if they get in a situation where they are playing from behind late in the game.
The prospect of this scenario could be unsettling for Badgers fans considering the question marks that remain for the team at both quarterback and wide receiver.
At quarterback, the battle between Joel Stave and Tanner McEvoy for the starting spot still isn’t over, and neither is a guarantee to be reliable in crunch time. McEvoy would be inexperienced and nobody knows how he’d react under the pressure of a big moment, while in the past Stave hasn’t looked like a quarterback that could be relied on to lead his team quickly down the field with the clock winding down.
With Jared Abbrederis gone, Wisconsin also lacks an obvious go-to receiving option. Gary Andersen’s team will need someone like wide receiver Jordan Fredrick or tight end Sam Arneson to step up and provide either Stave or McEvoy with a reliable target if they need one in the clutch.
In any event, whether it is through Gordon or the passing attack, the occasion may arise where the Badgers have to perform at its highest level in the fourth quarter, and it remains to be seen whether or not they are able to answer the bell.