It's been a tough season for the Wisconsin Badgers. Some tough losses, some gritty wins, three head coaches, and one wild ride later, the 2022 season ends on a high note for Wisconsin. The Badgers took a 24-17 victory over Oklahoma State in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl.
New head coach Luke Fickell was on the sidelines for Wisconsin but wasn't calling the shots, instead allowing interim head coach Jim Leonhard to stay in his role and see the team through their final game of the season, and the plan worked.
After starting quarterback Graham Mertz entered the transfer portal, the Badgers started redshirt senior Chase Wolf under center and in his first career start, Wolf completed 16 of 26 passes for 116 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
With a few weeks to recover, Braelon Allen was back to his dominant self, carrying the ball 22 times for 116 yards and a touchdown while Chez Mellusi added 77 yards on 16 carries with a touchdown.
Wisconsin got off to an early 3-0 lead on a 47 yard field goal from Nate Van Zelst, but as they looked to expand that lead, Wolf threw an interception in the endzone and on the very next play, Oklahoma State had an 84 yard catch and run for a touchdown with several missed tackles. The Cowboys took a 7-3 lead but after both teams traded a pair of punts, Wisconsin put together a classic time-churning drive spanning 13 plays and chewing 7:24 off the clock, culminating in a one yard Mellusi TD run to give Wisconsin a 10-7 lead. Wisconsin would add another touchdown before the half with a 15 yard pass from Wolf to tight end Hayden Rucci.
The Badgers would add on, following a Jay Shaw interception, two plays later Braelon Allen scored from 20 yards out to give Wisconsin a comfortable 24-7 lead.
However, Oklahoma State wouldn't give up, putting together back to back scoring drives with a touchdown and a field goal to pull within one possession and make it a 24-17 game. On their final possession of the game, Cowboys QB Garrett Rangel was intercepted by Cedrick Dort, giving the Badgers the ability to ice the game and they did just that, holding on to and securing the 24-17 victory in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl and the final game with Jim Leonhard on the sidelines for the Badgers.
Now that the bowl game is over, the Luke Fickell Era will officially get going in Madison. There's still more work ahead with building the coaching staff, the transfer portal, and recruiting. The next time we see the Badgers in a game though will be next September when they kick off the 2023 season on September 2nd against Buffalo.