The Wisconsin Badgers finished their 2018 regular season in most disappointing fashion, losing Paul Bunyan’s Axe to Minnesota in a staggering 37-15 loss at Camp Randall Stadium on Senior Day.
The offense for Wisconsin (7-5, 5-4 Big Ten) could not get rolling efficiently, and its defense was gashed for 201 yards rushing by P.J. Fleck’s Minnesota squad. Special teams also left points on the board, as Rafael Gaglianone missed a chip shot field goal on UW’s first drive while the punt coverage unit gave up a 69-yard touchdown return to Demetrius Douglas.
A group of writers came together on Monday night to talk about that defeat, but also looked more broadly at the regular season that was hyped with College Football Playoff aspirations, plus the potential for their bowl destination.
So, Wisconsin gets trounced, embarrassed and overwhelmed by P.J. Fleck’s Minnesota squad. I’m not going to ask what went well on Saturday, but will go over the season as a whole. You can’t use Jonathan Taylor (too obvious). What other positives have you seen this year from Wisconsin in a disappointing season?
Drew Hamm: Ummmm.
Owen Riese: The abundance of youth and depth that’s been developed and created by necessity
Tyler Hunt: Well ... might need to ponder that one a bit.
Jake Kocorowski: We have a few minutes per question.
Owen: There is zero shortage of young talented kids on the roster.
Drew: Yeah, I suppose the youngsters on defense faced a lot of “live rounds” as it were.
Bob Wiedenhoeft: Linebackers are good.
Tyler: I think the young guys on defense have come along. Didn’t appear on Saturday as much, but they’ve gotten better. Linebackers are great. Sucks they wasted guys like that.
Drew: T.J. Edwards and Ryan Connelly should have a statue outside of Camp Randall Stadium for all they did this year.
Jake: Seconded on Drew’s comment. Those two redshirt seniors played their hearts out.
Bob: If there’s a positive, it’s that this is a necessary setback to trim the fat. Hopefully on the interior of the program they’re realizing what is and isn’t going to work long term. A successful season might have caused them to overlook problems.
Drew: I really hope so, Bob. I really hope so.
Tyler: Connelly might go down as one of my all-time favorite Badgers. Guy just puts his hard hat on and racks up 10 tackles a game.
Owen: Crazy that he was the fourth inside linebacker in that LSU game.
Jake: One of the top 10 walk-ons in the past 25 years, Ty.
Drew: Someone should write a book about that.
Jake: [Insert Walk-On This Way Amazon.com link here ... I GOT KIDS]
Tyler Hunt: Hahahaha. Good plug
Bob: The gold-plated version is worth it.
Start with the good, now with the bad. What disappointed you most about the Minnesota loss?
Drew: What a silly question. EVERYTHING.
Bob: Minnesota running three unique plays the whole game and getting six-plus yards every time. Don’t fact check that.
Tyler: I was disappointed by what seemed to be a lack of preparedness. Just seemed to have no will once they got behind.
Drew: Losing to a one-dimensional Minnesota offense that started 4,000 freshmen overall at Camp Randall is inexcusable.
Tyler: In a rival game no less. Against P.J.—freaking—Fleck.
Bob: Several former players noted a lack of effort. That’s mind-boggling since this was their only real chance to make the regular season a 100 percent failure.
Owen: The lack of effort thing is garbage when you’re not like in the room. It’s an easy and lazy thing to say, but you’re right Minnesota did legit run like three run game concepts all game and executed.
Jake: I’m always intrigued by Owen’s insights on topics like this, being a former college football player.
Drew: I like to assume that all the players were trying all season, but why would former players say that if they weren’t noticing something?
Tyler: I swear Minnesota ran the read option every play one drive and they looked as though they had never seen it before.
Owen: Because it’s the natural thing to say. It’s easy. “They’re not as good as we were.” Blah, blah.
Bob: I agree Owen that it’s easy to say there is a lack of effort and is lazy. It perks my ears up when it’s coming from multiple former players.
Drew: Damn millennials ruining Badger football.
Tyler: What haven’t we ruined?!
Owen: Like I’d like to see whoever look Michael Deiter and Beau Benzschawel in the face like we saw them in the media room and tell them they weren’t trying hard enough.
Tyler: Hard to believe they would behind closed doors. You’re right, I see how it’s an easy cop out for underlying issues.
Drew: Did you have to look up how to spell Benzschawel?
Owen: Nope. As a right guard who wore 66 we’re basically blood brothers.
Bob: Give Owen a Pulitzer already.
Drew: Give him a Benzschawel imo.
Seems like a good segue into GAME BALLS FOR THE SEASON...or really, just regular season player of the year honors
Owen: Jonathan Taylor. Boom. Beat that.
Jake: Who deserves them on offense and defense ... once someone says Taylor, you can’t use him again.
Drew: Hello to J. Taylor only.
Owen: Deiter, Biadasz and Benzschawel on offense.
Owen: Connelly, Edwards, and D’Cota on defense.
Tyler: I’d mention Taiwan Deal on offense. I was worried about who would spare Taylor, and he bounced back this year.
Bob: I don’t think anyone else deserves a game-ball that hasn’t been mentioned. If there are leftovers give them to [list of volleyball, women’s hockey players].
Drew: Ethan Happ should probably get a game ball, too.
Bob: I support that.
Owen: I think, in an attempt to stay somewhat on topic, this season will be looked back on as a huge transition year for a lot of these players.
Jake: Ah yes. Good point, Owen.
Tyler: I think so, too. Sometimes you have to go back to move forward. Hope that’s the case.
Drew: Does Jake Ferguson get a game ball?
Jake: I think he should. He emerged as a pass catching threat, and his blocking was not bad either. He will be a force next year.
Tyler: Agreed. Seemed to come along and looks like he’ll be the next in a great line of tight ends.
Last question: UP NEXT: BOWL GAME TALK. Where would you like to see the Badgers play?
Owen: I don’t care where they play so much but a Stanford/Oregon/Cal matchup is intriguing to me, and I’ve seen them projected.
Tyler Hunt: I saw Pinstripe Bowl against Syracuse and I DO NOT want to see us try and stop Dungey.
Jake: Dino Babers’s offense at ‘Cuse is crazy.
Drew: I hope they play a Power 5 team somewhere warm.
Tyler: Redbox Bowl against Stanford seemed to be a common one I saw. A Taylor/Bryce Love matchup would be intriguing.
Bob: I’d prefer the Quick Lane Bowl (or whatever the Detroit one is) because the probability of me going would be one percent instead of zero percent anywhere else. I’m not buying a plane ticket or putting on a thousand miles on my car to go elsewhere.
Drew: Bob is the one percent.
Jake: #BobIsAOnePercenter. He’s related to EC3 (Yes, that’s a wrestling reference).
Bob: I think we’re mixing metaphors.
Drew: We should be mixing drinks tbqh.
Bob: I have some whiskey left.