Wisconsin Badgers: 5 Most Impactful Seniors

2 of 6

Sep 5, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Joel Stave (2) throws in the pocket against the Alabama Crimson Tide at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Joel Stave

Yes, Joel Stave, the most polarizing Wisconsin football player in program history. Perhaps the biggest impact he had on the Badgers is triggering fans to argue over whether he or whoever his backup is at the time should be the starting quarterback. But make no mistake about it. In his five years as a Badger, Stave has made quite a big impact on Wisconsin football.

Stave currently ranks third among active FBS quarterbacks with 29 career wins. With regular season games left against Northwestern on Saturday and Minnesota on Nov. 28, a highly-unlikely Big Ten title game and a bowl game, Stave needs just one win to tie Brooks Bollinger for Wisconsin’s all-time wins record for a starting quarterback.

In addition to winning, Stave has several other career marks that rank among the best Badgers’ quarterbacks. Stave stands at No. 3 in program history with 7,110 career passing yards, just 576 less than Darrell Bevell. He ranks second in completions and touchdowns behind Bevell. Among Badger quarterbacks who have a minimum of 300 pass attempts, Stave is fourth in completion percentage and sixth in pass efficiency.

More from Football

Stats are hard to argue, but let’s take a look at Stave’s wild ride leading up to his final game at Camp Randall.

After enrolling in the spring semester of 2011, Stave redshirted in his first season with the Badgers. He competed with Maryland transfer Danny O’Brien and Curt Phillips in 2012. After initially losing the competition, Stave was entered into the starting lineup three games into the season and was 4-1 as a starter before a broken collarbone put him on the sidelines until he entered the Rose Bowl for two plays.

Stave beat out Phillips and Tanner McEvoy during fall camp in 2013 and played his best season as a Badger. Stave completed 61.9 percent of his passes, threw 22 touchdowns with 2,494 passing yards but finished with 13 interceptions.

Nearly every media member thought Stave would return as the starter during fall camp in 2014, but Gary Andersen wanted a running threat at quarterback and went with McEvoy, which was a disaster. Stave developed a case of the yips and was shut down until he was thrown back into action the Big Ten opener and started the rest of the way. Wisconsin finished 8-1 in Stave’s starts.

In the spring of 2015, new head coach Paul Chryst announced Stave would be the starter. For the first time, Stave entered the season knowing he would be the guy. Another new element to this season is that Wisconsin does not have a good running game due to an injured Corey Clement as well as inexperience and injuries to the offensive line. Stave has had to win games for the Badgers, not the rushing attack, and he has been able to do it. Wisconsin is 8-2, and its losses have come to No. 2 Alabama and No. 5 Iowa.

It has been a pretty crazy career for Stave, who will likely finish as the Badgers’ all-time winningest quarterback in team history.

Next: Most Impactful Seniors: Joe Schobert