MADISON -- Dezmen Southward believes things usually play out the right way in college football.
Even through the scrutiny of a soon-to-be extinct BCS system, the Wisconsin senior safety thinks winning takes care of everything else, and there aren't many teams who truly get "shafted" come bowl season.
But what if the two-loss Badgers defeat Penn State in their regular-season finale and get left out of a BCS bowl game?
"We would definitely be shafted," Southward said. "Officially shafted."
Whether Wisconsin likes it or not, there remains a real likelihood that a sixth straight win Saturday won't mean a fourth consecutive appearance on one of college football's best postseason stages.
The Badgers did move up from 19th to 15th in this week's BCS rankings, one spot from being in a much better position to earn an at-large bid. If Wisconsin moves into the top 14 and Michigan State (currently No. 13) falls below that line, the Badgers would almost certainly earn a spot in one of the four BCS bowls.
While a Spartans loss to Ohio State in next week's Big Ten Championship Game would seemingly make the above scenario a probable outcome, computer rankings can be unpredictable.
"I think we have a good chance," tight end Jacob Pedersen said. "You never figure out what a computer's thinking, so I can't handle those. But all we can do is go out, play our best, hopefully have a good game and come out successful and the rest of the voters vote us in."
Earlier in the season, Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen spent weeks dismissing the importance of rankings that would look much different by season's end.
With one game remaining, Andersen alluded to the bowl implications of this week's game, but also said they shouldn't be the motivating factors driving the team.
"We won't address that as a team. They know the importance of it," Andersen said. "I want them to go play for each other and play for what's important.
"If they can find a way to win this game against Penn State, do I think they deserve that opportunity to play in a BCS bowl game? Absolutely, yes. I don't have a bunch of say in that, but I do believe that. I think they've put themselves in the elite of the elite position. In the Big Ten conference, to do what they've done, if they can win on Saturday, then I believe they should be given that opportunity."
Quarterback Joel Stave added, "That's the goal, to put yourself in the best possible bowl that you can. I know there are a lot of deserving teams around the country.
"I guess we'll leave that up to the voters, but I feel like we can give just about any team in the country a run for their money."
Tanner McEvoy's future
Andersen said his coaching staff has had "zero conversation and zero thought" as to what role Tanner McEvoy will play after this season.
McEvoy, a redshirt sophomore, entered fall camp as a quarterback but has received a large chunk of playing time since moving over to safety.
Andersen said discussions about what position best fits the 6'6 McEvoy best be had after this season ends, but he did hint that remaining at safety looks to be the most likely scenario.
"As well as he's done (at safety), and he continues to progress, it's a great opportunity for him to come in as a starter and be in that position," Andersen said. "And then he'd have to turn around and get into a quarterback battle. Again, we'll address it, but not until after we get through these next two games."
-- Now that the Minnesota game has passed, Andersen said Monday he has an even greater appreciation for Wisconsin's rivalry with the Gophers.
-- After discovering Monday afternoon that Badgers linebacker Chris Borland was not one of five finalists for this year's Butkus Award, given to the nation's top linebacker, Andersen predictably disagreed with the omission.
"It surprises me," Andersen said. "In my opinion, I guess the best linebacker in the country's not going to be on that list."
-- Andersen encouraged UW students who are going home for Thanksgiving to donate their tickets to someone who doesn't normally get a chance to see the Badgers play.
"I come across probably hundreds of people a week that don't have the opportunity to get to Camp Randall to see a game," Andersen said. "So if we could get those (tickets) donated to whoever -- friends, family members, other students, whoever it may be, for people to get into Camp Randall. It's something they can cherish for the rest of their lives. Hopefully we can get the stadium filled up."
-- Andersen said the Badgers will practice early on Thanksgiving Day, finishing before 11 a.m. He's encouraging players to spend the day in a family environment, whether it be with their own families or at a coach's house, his included.
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