UW’s season hits brutal bump

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Michael Hunt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Monday, October 31, 2011
— The Ohio State University, which has been among the cautionary tales for college football of late, trotted out its best-behavior finery Saturday night for the benefit of the one-time scourge of the Big Ten.

Funky uniforms typically reserved for Michigan. The vacationing A.J. Hawk to a standing ovation at the Horseshoe. Eddie George and the marching bandís relatively exclusive Script Ohio to fireworks at halftime.

Exactly whom were the Buckeyes expecting for dinner? The 2001 Miami Hurricanes?

And why did all those fans rush the field when it was over?

What were they expecting? Another Michigan State-type miracle in reverse?

Like that was going to happen.

Letís also be real about this: Wisconsin wasnít exactly BCS material the week before against a now-suspect Sparty. And against an Ohio State that resembled Ohio State only in the tradition it strutted about for a marquee-slot audience against the team that had taken away what the NCAA police didnít, the Badgers looked every bit the part of a second-tier bowl team in the 33-29 loss.

Another long touchdown pass allowed at, well, not at the end as in the stunning loss to MSU, but close enough to the end that it stung just as much.

Another blocked punt in what looked like the same Michigan State breakdown.

Another costly intentional-grounding penalty against the one-time Heisman Trophy candidate.

Another wasted timeout.

It wasnít exactly dťjŗ vu all over again, as Yogi Berra might say if given an endorsement check.

But it was close enough to confirm that Wisconsinís aspirations toward greatness arenít looking so great now. Even good teams do not repeat those kinds of game-turning mistakes.

Because letís also be honest about this: UW had one speed bump in a really favorable schedule: At Michigan State. At a very down Ohio State. There was no expectation that the Badgers would lose them both.

It might be a tad too early to call it a season here in the debut year of the Big Ten championship game and a time at which the league itself isnít so hot. But youíve got to admit that this is one hugely immediate case of the Bucky blues.

Remember how Wisconsin burrowed all kinds of holes in the Ohio State front last year during the walkover of the No. 1 Buckeyes at Camp Randall Stadium?

Except for one 40-yard run near the end Saturday, Wisconsinís signature punch was never thrown. Ohio State just beat the Badgers at the point of attack to the point that Wisconsin had 10 rushing yards in the first half.

Not only that, the Wisconsin defense, which had been pretty good at stopping the run, allowed the Buckeyes to break off a game-defining 57-yard dash to begin the second half.

Together, those breakdowns donít exactly define Wisconsinís annual goal to be a physically dominating football team.

And as terrific as Russell Wilson had been in the first six games, he gave up a safety against Michigan State with the penalty. Against Ohio State, his intentional grounding led to a short field and then a field goal.

Bottom line, Ohio State doesnít have much of a quarterback anymore. The Badgers allowed a freshman to run for 99 yards and hit a ridiculous 40-yard touchdown pass with 20 seconds left. Even when the stumbliní Buckeyes gave the Badgers one last shot with two penalties with no time on the clock, there was no real thought that Wisconsin would do unto Ohio State as Michigan State had done unto the Badgers.

Thatís because Wisconsin was already beaten by the time it had one last shot to pull it out. The same type of mistakes two weeks in a row will do that every time.

Last updated: 6:37 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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