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What's next for the Wisconsin Badgers after Week 4?

A look at the ramifications of Saturday's results.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday afternoon at Camp Randall Stadium, the Wisconsin Badgers led just 14-10 at the end of the first quarter. That's when running back Melvin Gordon took center stage, returning himself to the Heisman Trophy conversation.

The junior running back finished with career highs in rushing yards and touchdowns, totaling 253 yards and five touchdowns on the day. He averaged 19.5 yards per carry to lead a Badgers team that finished with a school and modern Big Ten record 646 yards on the ground in their 68-17 drubbing of Bowling Green. They also amassed 756 total yards, another school record.

Unfortunately for Wisconsin fans, the clobbering doesn't do much for the Badgers' College Football Playoff aspirations. Their only test thus far, the season-opening LSU game, resulted in a heartbreaking loss, and the committee is unlikely to be wowed by a win over a MAC team like Bowling Green, no matter how impressive.

The Badgers still need to steamroll through the rest of their cupcake Big Ten schedule, with their only major regular-season test being on Nov. 15, when Nebraska will come to Camp Randall. As was the case after the LSU and Western Illinois games, the Badgers will likely need to win the Big Ten Championship to reach the Playoff.

To take the next step, Tanner McEvoy will have to improve his passing game. He ran for 158 yards Saturday, including a 62-yarder, but still struggled throwing the ball. He completed just nine of 16 passes for 112 yards, a touchdown and an interception; his  58.8 percent completion percentage on the season hardly cracks the country's top 80. The Badgers' ground game will carry them, but they'll need a more balanced offensive attack when conference play rolls around.

As ESPN's Joey Galloway said during the broadcast, "When Tanner McEvoy misses, he misses badly." McEvoy will have to scale back his tendency of overthrowing wide-open receivers if he intends to lift the Badgers to the Playoff.

The first Playoff committee rankings won't come out until late October, making the AP Poll the most telling rankings thus far. The Badgers, who currently stand at No. 19, could move to Nos. 18 or 17, but won't jump too high.

Surveying the powerhouses

Among Saturday's top-25 results were No. 11 Michigan State's 73-14 trouncing of neighbor Eastern Michigan and No. 13 Georgia's 66-0 thrashing of Troy. On Thursday, No. 5 Auburn beat No. 20 Kansas State, 20-14. None of those results will have a direct effect on the Badgers.


Saturday's impressive performance certainly benefited the Badgers -- of course, a 68-17 win never hurts. But it's not enough to draw any definitive conclusions just yet. Gary Andersen's squad has a long road ahead, and the Badgers will need a great deal of help if they hope to suit up in the College Football Playoff.