On Sept. 15, Gary Andersen's Utah State Aggies were flying high, coming off their first victory over in-state rival Utah since 1997.
Now they were faced with another difficult task—taking down the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium.
And Andersen's Aggies would have gotten away with it, too, if it wasn't for a pesky 37-yard field goal that sailed wide-right as time expired, giving Wisconsin a bigger scare than anyone could have imagined.
Andersen coaches the Badgers now. Even though his field goal kicker, Josh Thompson, was unable to get him a victory he arguably deserved on that night, Andersen has shown the ability to get his teams to pull out close games.
Here are 3 reasons why that trend will carry over to Madison.
When a team is ahead in a close game or within a score attempting to stage a game-winning drive, it's important to have talent and experience at your play-making positions on offense.
Andersen will be happy to know that other than Montee Ball, Wisconsin will have plenty.
James White and Melvin Gordon are more than a formidable duo at running back and should have plenty of success carrying the rock next season. Split outside will be senior wide-out Jared Abbrederis, one of the best returning receivers in the country, as well as Jordan Fredrick, who gained valuable playing experience his freshman year.
The offseason will be a dogfight to determine who is handed the reins at quarterback, but whether it's Joel Stave, Curt Phillips or redshirt freshman Bart Houston who wins the job, they will have plenty of weapons at their disposal.
There was talent at Wisconsin this season, but not necessarily enough players who had been through the ups and downs of a rough season. That's exactly the roller-coaster ride the Badgers experienced in 2012.
Look for that to pay dividends when Wisconsin finds itself in pressure-cooked situations at the end of games come next season.
When athletic director Barry Alvarez elected Andersen to be the next head coach at Wisconsin in December, there was still work to be done. Andersen needed to fill out the remainder of his coaching staff.
For the most part, Andersen was able to hire coaches that either worked alongside or under him in the past, including new offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig, defensive coordinator Dave Aranda and, most recently, tight ends coach Jay Boulware.
So what does this have to do with winning close games? That familiarity allows the coaching staff to have a unique connection, and it should eliminate confusion late in games when coaches are attempting to relay information between themselves and the players.
This is in contrast to the scenario of Andersen entering his first season at Wisconsin alongside completely new faces. That would require him to learn the tendencies of every single assistant coach. It may seem minor, but communication and having an understanding of what you want to do heading into the latter stages of a game can make a world of difference.
Gary Andersen has played in a whole boatload of close games over the past few years.
Utah State found itself in 14 games decided by a touchdown or less dating back to 2011. The Aggies won seven of those games, but that's beside the point.
Even though Andersen has only been a head coach for four years, he has accomplished about as much as he possibly could while coaching in the WAC. To be able to jam all of these close-game experiences in such a small time frame is extremely beneficial for a coach with his level of experience.
The Badgers need someone who knows what they are doing in these situations. Knowledge is power. While there's only so much a head coach can do when he finds himself in a close game, to have his players and coaches in the right mindset as the clock is ticking down to zero will be vital to the Badgers coming through in the clutch.
Putting up a .500 record in close games is about what you would expect. Badger fans would gladly take that following a two-year stretch of going 3-8 in games decided by seven points or less under Bret Bielema.