Mary Langenfeld-US PRESSWIRE
The Badgers are 7-5 after their third overtime loss in four games, and could ultimately finish the season 7-7 after entering the 2012 season with Rose Bowl expectations. Yet I'm strangely at peace with this squad.
It feels like it should be the end, but it turns out Wisconsin has another game to play before heading off to a bowl game somewhere -- the Gator Bowl looking likely. A lot of fans view the Big Ten Championship game as a setup for Wisconsin to achieve a rarely (never?) seen 7-7 record. There is no reason to like the team's chances against Nebraska, but the odds are at least as good as they were against Ohio State and Penn State. For all of the belly-aching, let's not forget that both games were tied at the end of regulation. That's a 50-50 shot, presumably.
That isn't consolation, I know. Our happiness in sports doesn't tie neatly with how our teams actually played. A close loss leaves a disproportionately large bruise. But while three straight overtime losses looks like a trend, it is still well within the variance of small sample sizes. Yes, this is very relevant.
I'm at peace with this squad. I was frustrated plenty, with play-calling and improperly vetted coaching hires in particular. Mike Markuson should have never happened, in hindsight, and Matt Canada is apparently only capable of calling screens and play action before a defense has over-committed to the running game. But five losses (or seven) isn't earth-shattering for a team that went through a massive coaching transition, suffered injuries at critical moments and is currently down to its third starting quarterback at season's end.
Dare I say, I believe the 2012 season will be regard fondly, for Montee Ball and his superlative career, for the awakening of Joel Stave and for what hindsight may ultimately view as the calm before an outstanding 2013 season. Every piece on offense returns outside of Ball and Ricky Wagner. A front seven that had been stout until Happy Valley will be senior-laden. Underlying that team will be a never-die attitude that has permeated recent iterations of Badger football under Bret Bielema.
I should be upset, and fans are absolutely right to be. In fact, they are right to choose whatever narrative they wish.
Post-game notes and video breakdown from Dave Heller and Jeff Potrykus.
Bielema confident that Abbrederis will be able to play. We'll see whether that's just fluff on Tuesday.
Badgers Roundtable doesn't have a lot of nice things to say.
Three teams were going to take Russell Wilson with their next pick. He was taken by the only team that would have given a shot to start from the beginning of the season.
Bret Bielema is the fifth highest paid head coach in the Big Ten, and more importantly KIRK FERENTZ IS THE FIFTH HIGHEST PAID COACH IN THE COUNTRY.
College football's Bloody Sunday takes Danny Hope away from us (and he will be missed).
The Week in Twitter reminds us that the Big Ten is oh so very bad.