The Wisconsin football season has been a disaster. And the worst may still be yet to come.
I hate to run around yelling that the sky is falling for the Wisconsin football program, but I can’t help it. Wisconsin started the season ranked in the top 5 of the AP Poll (and received a first-place vote!) and now has a scarily realistic chance to finish with a losing record. That hurts once it sinks in.
Wisconsin is more than a field goal underdog this weekend on the road against Purdue. If all goes as projected the Badgers will be 6-5 heading back to Madison to try to keep the Ax out of Minnesota’s hands.
After the loss to BYU, Wisconsin still had a shot to win the Big Ten. It didn’t matter. Beating Iowa was huge and laying the smackdown on Nebraska was a given. Then came the debacle against Michigan. The Badgers looked awful but still had the inside track to Indianapolis. Little did we know at the time that the wheels were wobbling and beginning to fall off.
Beating up Illinois and Rutgers doesn’t mean anything when every team does that to them. What matters is the total lack of offense on the road against Northwestern and Penn State in recent weeks. Even with almost 200 yards form Jonathan Taylor last weekend against the Nittany Lions the Badgers only managed 10 points. This Wisconsin team was supposed to ride that running game to a title. Now it can’t even ride it to two touchdowns.
With the way Wisconsin has been playing there’s little hope that a win is likely against the Boilermakers. And if things look as bad as they have the last few weekends it’s going to be hard to be optimistic about Minnesota.
Every program seems to run into a rut every now and then. After the loss to BYU, I was still preaching how Wisconsin is so much better than that and they’d still have a great shot to win the conference. It was just a bad game, right? I was wrong about that. And I fear I’d be wrong to think this is just a bad season.
Wisconsin is too proud of a program to fall into the bottom ranks of the Big Ten and stay there, but there may need to be some big changes to avoid it. The writing is on the wall for that to become the case under this regime. I’m not calling for Paul Chryst’s job (yet) but the man has to innovate. The offense is outdated. It only works because Wisconsin does it better than anybody. They aren’t doing it to that level anymore.
If this is a result of having some entitled offensive linemen and lacking a healthy quarterback capable of running the offense, then fine. I’ll wait for the upperclassmen on the line who keep accruing penalties to move on from the program. I’ll be patient for Alex Hornibrook to be back. But if this problem persists into next year I’ll be regretfully telling myself, “I told ya so!”
Wisconsin can’t save the season anymore. I’ve punted on that and grown to expect the worst. The Badgers are just bad. They can only hope to not totally fail the program as a whole and lose out, including a lowly bowl game the Badgers are locked into due to already having six wins.
I suppose things could get better but you should be able to tell by now I don’t think they will. And things can get so, so much worse. Not just this year, but for the future. In a roundabout way, Wisconsin is playing for something bigger than just the rest of the year. I hope they answer the call.