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Badger Bits: The upshot of a good weekend

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Sometimes I have a hard time disassociating myself from the feeling that fate hates my football team due a couple of heartbreaking losses. Days like this past Saturday remind me that football is still a game of funny bounces, and more importantly, no team in the B1G is good enough to not shoot itself in the face in any given week.

Welcome back, deja vu. The offense returned to its first-half-of-the-season glory against Minnesota, complete with a record-setting performance by Montee Ball and near perfect one from Russell Wilson, who completed just 94 percent of passes on the day. The defense did not give up a point when it was on the field, holding the Gophers to 156 total yards. The Badgers looked like a Rose Bowl team, even if it was just Minnesota.

Unfortunately, we're just going to have to accept the fact that every team we face will be spotted 14 points via some varying combination of defensive and special teams breakdowns. Curse the fates, then move on, because the Badgers' mistakes have transitioned from "flukey" to "systemic" after a fourth straight week of ugh-inducing screw-ups. If Wisconsin was even serviceable on kickoff coverage they would likely have one less loss, and would maybe be inching their way back into the national title discussion. But they're not, so Rose Bowl talk will have to do.

And that's pretty good. If there was a silver lining from the Ohio State loss, it was that it saved Wisconsin from having to play the "what if" game. This is a good team, but a deeply flawed one as that loss demonstrated. The Badgers aren't a national championship-caliber team, and now that they know that they can focus on being the next best thing. A trip to Pasadena would still put this squad among the best Badger teams from the past 20 years, especially if they beat a Top 5 Pac 12 champion. 

I like the idea of the Badgers making up for their road woes this week in Champaign, I like that they can clinch a berth in the conference championship game at home, and I love that if all goes well they will get another swing at Sparty in Indy. Manage that, and Wisconsin will get a chance to play the underdog role for once, and just maybe surprise us all.

After a streak of bad bounces, it feels nice to have a couple go your way.


Monday's Links:

Ball got to keep his record-setting football, and a fight nearly broke out after the Badgers celebrated a little too heartily with Paul Bunyan's axe.

Game recap and quotables, via the State Journal and the Journal Sentinel: Badgers seize control of their own destiny in the Big Ten with the win.

This week in rich, chewable statistical goodness.

Wilson could have gone 17-for-17 on the day, but Nick Toon didn't feel like catching a third quarter pass.

Peter Konz injury update: Expect him to miss at least the next two regular season games. He could return for the B1G Championship game (pending). Jared Abbrederis may return against Illinois.

Report card via State Journal and Journal Sentinel. Special teams nicht gut.

Thing to worry about instead of sleeping: The Badgers outthinking themselves on kickoff coverage. For real.

Off Tackle Empire tabs the Badgers for the Rose Bowl against Oregon (terrifying).


Waiter? Will you please bring Bret Bielema another bottle of Andre? And no, he doesn't care that you're not a waiter and that this is a self-serve car wash.    

Badger ballers destroy Kennesaw State. Hockey splits with Minnesota, which is pretty good all things considered.

Leaving off: Mascots are fun (click to animate)