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The story of a dominating, losing performance

If you had told me Wisconsin would hold the ball for 42 minutes Saturday and out-gain OSU 250-87 in passing yards and 118-97 in rushing yards while holding the Buckeyes to only one offensive touchdown, I would have told you Wisconsin would beat Ohio State easily.

As it was, I expected Wisconsin to hang around in the Horseshoe and just barely get beat by the Buckeyes in a tough road contest, but I did not expect Wisconsin to dominate them in those statistical categories.

So how did the Badgers not only lose, but fail to cover the very disrespectful 16-point spread in a 31-13 loss?

It's funny how Vegas always knows. Somehow they knew Wisconsin would give up two interceptions for touchdowns and a kickoff return for a touchdown while also missing two field goals and losing out on a late touchdown because Issac Anderson couldn't hold on to a beautiful deep pass in the end zone.

I don't buy it. If just one of those unfortunate events hadn't occurred, Wisconsin would have covered, but more importantly, almost all of those events shouldn't have occurred (except Phillip Welch's miss from 57 yards, which actually had the distance). And if those events hadn't occurred, the Badgers would have come away with a convincing win at Ohio Stadium that would have given them control of the Big Ten and vaulted UW into the BCS conversation.

Woulda, shoulda, coulda.

While I've never seen a game where a team has lost by 18 points despite dominating the stat sheet so thoroughly, the result actually wasn't as inexplicable as it might seem. The Badgers just made too many critical mistakes against a team that will always capitalize on such mistakes.

The good news is that Wisconsin still proved its worth in the Big Ten. Before the game, an 18-point loss might have seemed like a wake-up call for an overachieving team that might not have had realistic conference title hopes. Instead, Wisconsin proved it can compete with the conference's best but also proved that it has a lot it can work on.

There were warning signs. Bret Bielema's special teams group gave up 138 yards to Minnesota's Troy Stoudermire on only four kickoff returns. Scott Tolzien threw an interception on a forced pass in Minneapolis. You could argue that a Badgers team, which had limited its crucial mistakes to poor coverage in late game situations, was at a breaking point in other crucial areas.

But UW also proved that it can continue to be successful in the areas that got them off to a 5-0 start in the first place. With an undefeated Iowa team coming into Camp Randall next weekend, Wisconsin still has a chance to make a statement against a Top 12 team.

And at first glance, it's a game Wisconsin can definitely win.


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Final - 10.10.2009 1 2 3 4 Total
Wisconsin Badgers 0 10 3 0 13
Ohio St. Buckeyes 7 7 14 3 31