Badgers deal with distraction
When the University of Wisconsin football team lost back-to-back games against Ohio State and Iowa last month, it looked like the Badgers’ season was in danger of slipping away.
Instead, No. 21 Wisconsin knocked off its next two opponents and put itself in position to qualify for a top-tier bowl game with a home game looming Saturday against Michigan.
Not that everything has gone smoothly. Coach Bret Bielema said Monday that wide receiver Maurice Moore had been indefinitely suspended after his arrest early Sunday on suspicion of drunken driving.
Moore, a junior, was taken to a Madison hospital to be treated for minor injuries, according to the police accident report. He has 45 yards receiving in nine games this season.
Bielema also said starting tailback John Clay showed signs of having a concussion during Saturday’s 31-28 win over Indiana but should be ready for Michigan. Clay carried 15 times for 134 yards and a touchdown against the Hoosiers, all in the first half.
As for the Wolverines (5-5,
1-5 Big Ten), Bielema knows his team needs to be ready. Michigan rallied from 19 points down last season to beat Wisconsin, 27-25—the first of four straight losses for the Badgers in a season that wound up 7-6.
“To be in the situation we were at half and finish that game out the way it did leaves a very bad taste, and we all know what happened after that,” Bielema said Monday. “We battled our tails off to get to where we are right now.”
Wisconsin (7-2, 4-2) has lost this year only to Ohio State (8-2, 5-1) and Iowa (9-1, 5-1). Those two ranked teams meet this weekend in Columbus with the Big Ten championship at stake.
“It’s unfortunate we weren’t able to have those two victories,” Bielema said. “On the same account, our guys learned some lessons and hopefully the younger guys will have that in their minds moving forward.”
Wisconsin rebounded from those defeats to crush Purdue, 37-0, and sneak past Indiana to match their total wins from last season.
Michigan started strongly, winning four in row and appearing to wipe away memories of its school-record nine-loss season last year, the first under coach Rich Rodriguez.
But the Wolverines have lost five of the past six games, all to conference opponents. Their only win during that stretch was against Delaware State of the Football Championship Subdivision. To qualify for a bowl, Michigan must beat Wisconsin in Madison or Ohio State at home.
Bielema wasn’t about to give Michigan any bulletin board material Monday.
“It’s Michigan. Michigan’s Michigan,” he said. “They’re going to be able to recruit, their guys look good, they have all the right bumps in all the right places. They run. They are physical at contact. They’re going to play well.”