Badger Bits: Despite setbacks, Badgers still in Rose Bowl picture

The Badgers still have a shot at marching into Indianapolis Dec. 3 for a chance to play for a Rose Bowl berth.

Doom and gloom.

Those seem to be the feelings of most Badger fans I've talked to in the time since Wisconsin's meltdown in Columbus Saturday, and it's not difficult to see why. The Badgers looked poised to make another run to a BCS game, perhaps even the National Championship, and the team had their first legitimate Heisman candidate since Ron Dayne in Russell Wilson. It was a great time to be a Badger fan.

Still, even after two gut-wrenching losses, I'm not sure doom and gloom are the right responses. Sure, the Badgers no longer control their own destiny, but Penn State, sitting pretty at 5-0 in conference play, has the third-toughest closing schedule in the nation. (Insider subscription required for the link) Ohio State is also still in the picture, but there's a decent chance the Nittany Lions and Badgers will play for the Leaders division title when they come to Madison for the regular season finale Nov. 26. Then, only the Dec. 3 conference championship game will separate Wisconsin from it's second straight Rose Bowl berth.

Six of the nine national college football writers on a list compiled by Dave Heller think the Badgers will pull off the run to the Rose Bowl, and I'm inclined to agree with them. First up: Purdue this Saturday.

Another benefit of conference realignment: more teams have a shot at the title this season than in years past.

Here's the book on Purdue, courtesy of Jeff Potrykus.

The Boilermakers started three different quarterbacks in their last 10 games.

They've also failed to win more than one game in a row this season.

From West Lafayette: The Boilers have struggled to run the ball on offense of late, and gave up too many big plays on defense against Michigan last week.

One of the most mind-boggling mistakes the Badgers made was allowing a defender to break through the right side of the punt protection "shield" for the second week in a row, leading to another blocked punt. The coaching staff is cleaning it up, apparently.

Michael Hunt thinks it's time to start discussing whether or not Bret Bielema is Wisconsin's long-term answer at head coach. I know the Badgers lost two straight, but I think this type of chatter is a bit overwrought.

Here's Dave Heller's weekly touches/targets chart.

The Badger Nation once again talked with former Badger Chris Maragos this week, this time mostly about the Ohio State game.

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