Wisconsin Football: Badgers’ 5 Most Devastating Losses In The Last 5 Years

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Michigan State wide receiver Keith Nichol makes the game-winning catch on the final play against Michigan State.-USA TODAY Sports

Opponent: Michigan State Spartans

Date: October 22, 2011

Final Score: 37-31

Wisconsin had a chance to have a real special season with the talent on the Badgers’ 2011 roster. With Nick Toon, Melvin Gordon, Jared Abbrederis, James White, Montee Ball and Chris Borland all on the team, Wisconsin also had Russell Wilson, who will likely be the best quarterback ever to play for the Badgers.

Wisconsin Badgers
Wisconsin Badgers /

Wisconsin Badgers

Sixth-ranked Wisconsin came into East Lansing with a perfect 6-0 record and outscored its  opponents by an average of more than 40 points per game.

Wilson threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Jacob Pedersen on Wisconsin’s opening drive, which was followed by a fumble by Michigan State running back Edwin Baker to set up a 9-yard score for Ball. The Badgers opened up an early 14-0 lead before the Spartans 23 unanswered points in the second quarter.

Wisconsin found itself trailing 31-17 with 8:40 left in the game, but a good punt return from Abbrederis set up a 22-yard touchdown run for Wilson. Wilson threw an interception on the Badgers’ next drive, but Wisconsin tied the game at 31 with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Ball.

Michigan State began its final possession from its own 22-yard line with 1:19 remaining. Brendan Kelly sacked Kirk Cousins, who fumbled, but the Spartans recovered. Wisconsin hoped to get the ball back, so Bret Bielema used all three timeouts during the drive, which actually aided the Spartans’ final possession.

With four seconds left, Cousins launched the ball from the Spartans’ 45-yard line. The ball sailed high in the air, through the arms of Abbrederis, off the chest of B.J. Cunningham into the hands of Michigan State wide receiver Keith Nichol. Nichol was originally ruled down at the 1-yard line, but the play went under review, and it was ruled that he broke the plane of the goal line, and the Badgers lost as time expired.

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You decide: which Badgers loss was the most devastating?