The Wisconsin Badgers (10-4 overall, 7-2 B1G) concluded their 2019 season in disappointing fashion with a one-point loss to the Oregon Ducks (12-2 overall, 8-1 Pac-12) in the one-hundred and sixth Rose Bowl Game.
In this weekly installment, here are three items that I think we learned about the Badgers after their close loss.
Let’s get the referee talk down with early here. There were some very — very x100 — questionable calls, but that was not the primary reason for the Badgers loss.
Entering the game versus Oregon, Wisconsin had averaged only 4.6 penalties per game, good for No. 16 in the nation. Wisconsin committed a season-high nine penalties for 79 yards. Outside of a couple offsides penalties, the flags came mostly on the offensive side of the ball. In the early second quarter Wisconsin had a holding call on Jason Erdmann — with Jonathan Taylor well past — that negated a 12 yard run. Wisconsin wouldn’t be able to recover, and instead had to settle for a field-goal attempt that was missed.
#Badgers have committed two holding penalties and one false penalty start on this drive. Couldn't overcome the last one. Collin Larsh missed a field goal.— Tom Oates (@TomOatesWSJ) January 1, 2020
Missed opportunities like the one listed above were numerous. In the first quarter after Jack Sanborn spied Justin Herbert and intercepted a pass at the Oregon 27-yard line, Wisconsin would go three-and-out and be forced to settle for three points. Later in the game, the Badgers put together a long drive that culminated with a field-goal from the nine-yard line.
::Insert Billy Mays voice:: But wait...there’s more!
The real crux of Wisconsin’s loss relies heavily on turnovers though. The Badgers turned the ball over four times, each of which occurred in Wisconsin territory. The result was 21 points for Oregon on short field situations. Jonathan Taylor’s fumble at the 38-yard line was the only moment that the defense was able to bail the offense, and special teams out. Jack Coan’s interception by Jalen Graham led to a Justin Herbert touchdown scamper, as did Danny Davis fumbling at his own 26-yard line. Sense a trend?
Illinois game all over again. Turnovers, missed field goal, settling for 3-points in the red zone on multiple occasions. Dominate in all facets except for pulling the trigger at your own foot. #Badgers pic.twitter.com/smACDMPdiC— Matt Belz (@savedbythebelz) January 2, 2020
In special teams Anthony Lotti’s dropped punt was ultimately picked up in easy fashion for an Oregon touchdown as well.
That’s it. That is the ball game. Paul Chryst told Brett McMurphy that “we didn’t overcome ourselves.” I think that sums it up eloquently.
Wisconsin was the the more talented team
The Badgers ended up leading in all major statistical categories, turnovers included (the wrong way).
Wisconsin had five more first-downs, 70 more rushing yards, 21 more plays, 118 more yards of offense, and had the ball for nearly two-thirds of the game. Nonetheless, the Badgers lost.
Oh, if not for the four turnovers Wisconsin could have easily won the Rose Bowl; players such as Mycah Pittman have high hopes, as Pittman says the next step is the national championship; Oregon's yardage total was lowest in Rose Bowl for a team since 1979 https://t.co/z3hFt9QczL— Portland Tribune (@ThePortlandTrib) January 2, 2020
After allowing an opening series drive that accounted for 75 of Oregon’s 204 total yards, Jim Leonhard’s defensive crew played exceptionally well. Oregon was unable to get anything going offensively outside of momentum swinging moments caused by Wisconsin’s own doing on their own end of the field.
On offense, Wisconsin controlled the pace of the game and had the Oregon defense on their heels for most of the game. Without turnovers and penalties shown in the box-score, Wisconsin would be the assumed victor every time.
The Badgers thoroughly outplayed Oregon, they just couldn’t conquer their own demons. The “better” team doesn’t make those mistakes, but they demonstrated superior talent for most of the game.
January 2, 2020
The monkey is still firmly on Wisconsin's back
Looking back 20 years ago, the last time that the Badgers won a Rose Bowl, most fans would have assumed that Wisconsin would have added a few more trophies in that time given the teams trajectory in the late 1990’s. There have been a slew of bowl wins, most notably five straight bowl victories entering yesterday. But the Rose Bowl has been a house of horrors for Wisconsin the last four trips.
I am numb to your impressive new ways to lose Rose Bowls, Wisconsin football.— Rich Hammie Quan (@drewhamm5) January 2, 2020
Wisconsin has had their chances in each of the past four losses in Pasadena, each similarly falling apart and slipping through their hands due to inopportune mistakes in gut wrenching fashion.
The Badgers no doubt had a stellar season, but the thorns from the Rose Bowl will need to be used as motivation moving forward. Wisconsin will return a lot of players on both the offense and defense in 2020. Can next year's squad use the recent recruiting successes to win in the big moments and exorcise the demons?
Wisconsin #Badgers football: a way-too-early look at the 2020 schedule— Bucky's 5th Quarter (@B5Q) January 2, 2020
Rose Bowl? Never heard of it! https://t.co/2jc1oX52lQ pic.twitter.com/AlOY1mlBFd