After 70-23 shellacking of Northwestern, the Badgers have won a share of their first conference title since 1999.
The Badgers, that season, went 10-2 overall. They suffered a bad loss to one of Barry's creampuffs (Cincinnati), and then lost at home to Michigan the very next week (a game that Michigan should not have won). They then went unbeaten the rest of the way, winning 42-17 AT Ohio Stadium, 20-17 at Minnesota, 59-0 in Camp Randall against Indiana, and 40-10 over Nick Saban's final MSU team. After all that was over, Wisconsin won in Ryan Field (which seems impossible nowadays) 35-19, 28-21 in Ross-Ade Stadium over Purdue (the Jamar Fletcher game), and close out the regular season with a 41-3 blowout of Iowa in which Ron Dayne smashed the NCAA rushing record set just a season ago by Ricky Williams of Texas.
The charmed 1999 campaign ended with a 17-9 win over Stanford in which Ron Dayne would earn MVP honors (his second Rose Bowl MVP). The Badgers wrapped up the 90s with their 3rd Rose Bowl win in as many visits and their third Big Ten title of the decade.
It's at this point I have to remember all the other times this team had a chance to do this...
The early 2000s weren't so good for Wisconsin football, though. The 2000 team lost to Ohio State (which was terrible in retrospect, given Cooper getting axed at the end of the year), Michigan (another game the Wolverines stole from Wisconsin), Purdue, and Northwestern. Wisconsin lost to all three of the Big Ten champions that year, and all of them were close games.
In 2001, the Badgers had a losing record (5-7). They faced their most difficult nonconference schedule in, possibly ever, and went 2-2 as a result. The Badgers then lost 5 conference games, to Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Penn State, and Minnesota.
2002. Barry tries to right the ship, gets a bowl game but loses six conference games. Lee Evans tears his ACL in the Spring Game...
2003. Barry manages to upset #3 Ohio State, but Minnesota pulls the rug from underneath the Badgers. Iowa follows suit one week after the Badgers annihilate Michigan State 56-21.
2004. Wisconsin doesn't bother to show up in late games against Michigan State and Iowa. Anthony Davis sits himself with a torn ego and the Badgers can't punch in ONE play on the ****ing MSU goal line. The Badgers then lose 49-14. The very next week against Iowa, the Badgers are sunk by Davis's absence and a once-good defense bending and snapping against the Hawkeyes in one of the most agonizing losses of my life. The Hawkeyes celebrate a share of the Big Ten title (and a hell of a lot of good that does them), as Ohio State upends the Wolverines on the very same day. To this day, 2004 Michigan stands out to me as one of the worst conference champions in league history
2005. Badgers have, after an early loss to Northwestern (with a gigantic WTF loss in Ryan Field, a 51-48 affair), pulled out a 5-0 record since. Then Penn State happens. Oh boy. Tamba Hali flies all over Wisconsin's backfield, bad things happen to Brian Calhoun, and the Badgers get stomped on in Beaver Stadium. The very next week, Wisconsin loses to a poor Iowa team in inexcusable fashion, Barry's THIRD consecutive loss to the Hawkeyes, and the Badgers fall to 5-3 on the season. (this game is why I REALLY hate losing to Iowa)
2006. Badgers lose in Michigan Stadium, then get screwed by the Wolverines going 11-0. The Wolverines then screw themselves by losing to Ohio State and getting shellacked by USC in the Rose Bowl (effectively proving that they have no business in Pasadena whatsoever). P.J. Hill starts to show an alarming injury trend this year.
2007. Badgers are out of contention almost eight weeks in. A hideous loss to Illinois, big losses to Ohio State and Penn State kill the Badgers, who manage to knock off a ranked Michigan team to close out the season (so at least we had THAT). P.J. Hill again is banged up and misses time in several games when the team can ill-afford it, and his fumble against Penn State just killed the team. (well, that and a Marcus Randle El punch)
2008. Where do I even BEGIN with this team? Nothing went right from the second half of Ann Arbor on. I'm not going to go into depth here; this season was BAD and made the 2001 Wisconsin team look like an entire SQUAD of All Americans... P.J. Hill somehow got 1,000 yards despite missing what seemed to be half the season with injuries. When he left, I was GLAD. I was sick of his fumbilitis, his tendency to go down whenever he sensed contact, and his lack of stamina.
2009. Losing to Iowa and Northwestern killed Wisconsin's hopes. The Ohio State loss was icky; Wisconsin COMPLETELY outplayed Ohio State on offense and defense, but Scott Tolzien's pick sixes didn't help the team at all. Nor did the awful kick coverage that allowed Ray Small to go all the way for a TD.
Pictures from the day's action below...
Lance Kendricks finds room for a 30 yard reception in the first quarter...
David Gilreath's final receiving touchdown in Camp Randall.
Yes, Montee Ball scored on THIS play, as well...
Aaron Henry sprints 50 yards for a touchdown after intercepting Northwestern QB Evan Watkins in the 3rd Quarter.