For the second week in a row, the Wisconsin Badgers choked in the final seconds of a game to lose on a bomb pass into the end zone. Last week it was a hail mary in East Lansing. This week, seemingly lazy defense on a prayer by Ohio State’s Braxton Miller with 20 seconds left. Either way you look at it, it makes for two emotionally draining and destructive losses for the Badgers.
Scoring first to take a 7-0 lead, the Badgers looked to be in control of the game, but OSU’s defense came to play. Stuffing the run and only allowing 10 first half rushing yards for Wisconsin, OSU controlled the line of scrimmage as the Badger O struggled to gain yards. The play action was ineffective for most of the game, since a rushing attack was nearly non-existent. At the same time, Braxton Miller used his scrambling ability to drive Badger defenders crazy, picking up first down after first down, keeping the Buckeyes in the slugfest offensively.
A review of this game wouldn’t be complete without drawing yet another parallel to last week’s loss against the Spartans. First it was how it ended – a last second bomb throw. The second, a blocked Badger punt which resulted in a touchdown. In fact, on both plays the protection shield cover was blow by the same player! It’s enough to drive any fan crazy, including myself. Luckily this week the Badgers were lighter on penalties and turnovers, but the blocked punt still turned out to be the difference in the game.
After looking dormant for the middle third of the game, the Badger Offense began clicking and scoring quickly, in the final 4 minutes of the game. As if they were woken up from a nap, two fast touchdowns were delivered – one by Ball (which was set up by an excellent run), and a picture perfect pass to a wide open Abby. After the final touchdown, coming with less than 2 minutes in the game, Badger fans sighed with relief – “We got this one, we got it”. But then the D gave in to the threat of Braxton Miller running with 20 seconds left, and the rest is history.
I won’t go into all the stats of the game (even though Russell Wilson had an overall good game, 3 TDs, over 200 yards passing, no INTs). I’m just so sad with this loss, it’s hard to be analytical. Wisconsin’s hopes of a Big Ten Title now rest on Ohio State losing, most likely to Penn State. For now though, things must focus back on the players, and the coaches. On what must be done to fix what is apparently broken. Things seemed almost too good to be true the first 6 games – basically all at home, with a friendly crowd. Now, two emotionally draining losses in a row, the question is, does this team have anything left in the tank to recover? As a fan, I can only hope so.