Moving on from Tempe: How does the Badgers' story unfold?

Christian Petersen

How do the Badgers pick up the pieces from that thing in Tempe? Let me count the ways.

"Rosin's been awfully quiet on this."

At least that's what I hope you're saying. The Badgers should have won. Pac-12 officials have long had a reputation of coming up far short in clutch situations. And let's not get to deep into the Ed Rush controversy! I must have been flipping tables, throwing phones, breaking televisions.

I HAD TO HAVE BEEN A ONE-MAN RIOT SQUAD OF RAGE.

Nah. Was I sad? Absolutely. But I'm going to tell you this. I was pretty sanguine. And not just because the former coach's wife knows how to twitter well. This fits the seasonal narrative perfectly. Everything was ordinary and fun.

And then, the inciting incident. It got me thinking, it's time to see how the Badgers go. There's five ways this can break down from here.

1. The Disaster Season

This is the season no one wants to put out into the world. It involves injuries to stars and absolute key parts of the team, multiple upset losses to embarrassing opponents. (I mean, like, Minnesota fans would never shut up in this scenario). There's a bowl game, but it's like the Heart of Texas Bowl against a team that couldn't win the Sun Belt. The Badgers sleepwalk through that and then they lose a bunch of dudes to declaring early. Like Vince Biegel inexplicably declares.

2. 8-5

The Badgers lose to Ohio State and Northwestern, and then BYU takes advantage of the bye week to give a performance more like the Texas version. They get the Outback Bowl against South Carolina, and Jadeveon Clowney absorbs Melvin Gordon on a trap play. So basically, it's last years Michigan team without a Denard Robinson involved.

3. The No Surprises Season

Okay, so the Badgers lose the Ohio State game. Northwestern's a toss-up. And they feast on the second half of the season . BYU gives them a game, but the "Corey Clement bludgeons a tired defense" show gets multiple airings. They end the year 9-3/10-2 and ranked. They go to the Capital One Bowl against like Texas A&M. A bajillion points are scored. But since this is the no surprises season, since when has a Big Ten team beaten a more highly regarded SEC team?

4. The 2006 Oklahoma Sooners

There's a lot of similarities between us and that batch of Sooners. And it's not just getting burned by some cruddy Pacific-Ten/Twelve officiating in game three, either. For one, the best offensive weapon for both teams is a running back. The secondary had little experience outside of someone on the Thorpe watch list. And they both had linebackers who were the stars of the defense.

So what happened to Oklahoma? They lost the Red River Shootout two weeks later, and then everything came together. They ran the table, won the Big 12, and then ... they ... lost ... to ... Boise State.

By that logic, the Badgers lose to Ohio State and then win out. (Ohio State travels to Northwestern, Michigan, and Purdue, who's won the last two in West Lafayette and scared OSU in Columbus last year). Then they get some sort of non-AQ school. (Let's say Central Florida). Then they get Bortles'd

So yeah. There's plenty of ways this can can go. Some fun. Most not. Suddenly, I don't believe in the Badgers' bowl chances. That being said? The season isn't over And there's --

Wait. I mentioned a fifth ending to the season, right? Sorry. Here's the the fifth ending.

5. MEGA. HAPPY. ENDING.

The Badgers win out. Ohio State, Northwestern, the Big Ten title, the Rose Bowl. James White and Melvin Gordon get 1,300 yards rushing apiece. Corey Clement gets 700. Joel Stave comes together and that second receiver emerges. The line stays healthy, and the secondary never has to face another quarterback like that mean Taylor Kelly.

13-1. Top-five finish. Top-15 recruiting class. It all comes together.

And then we forget about that dark night in Tempe.

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