As we are finally just days away from the Big Ten Championship Game, the Badgers and Huskers are headed in different directions.
Wisconsin has lost three of its last four games in overtime, all of which were gut-wrenching losses. The Badgers have lost four of their last five games by three points and their five losses this season are by a combined 19 points.
It's safe to say UW is backing into the Big Ten title game. The team appears mentally fatigued -- understandably so -- after the way this final stretch of the season has played out.
Standing on the opposite sideline, Nebraska owns the hot hand. Having won six straight games after getting trounced by Ohio State in early October, the Huskers have proven themselves down the stretch. They endured early-season struggles with losses to UCLA and Ohio State, but Nebraska cemented itself as the Legends Division frontrunner after defeating Michigan, 23-9, on Oct. 27.
So what is the difference between me and you -- between Wisconsin and Nebraska? As we've witnessed colossal collapses and an inability to close out tight games from the Badgers, the Huskers have done the complete opposite. Most notably, Nebraska has been in tough battles with Northwestern, Michigan State, Penn State and Iowa, and still managed to win all those contests.
To sum it all up, Nebraska has proven its ability to win close games while Wisconsin fell flat on its face in crunchtime. I don't care if Curt Phillips orchestrated two impressive drives to tie games against Ohio State and Penn State. It's meaningless if the team can't pull out the "W."
More likely than not, the Big Ten Championship Game will be decided late in the fourth quarter. Let's pray Bret Bielema and his coaching staff have learned from their past mistakes of closing out games -- which hasn't been evident the past few weeks -- and that we also never see Kyle French in the game's waning moments.
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The Penn State loss is just the latest in a growing trend of losing close games, Tom Oates writes.
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