Would you rather Wisconsin football play well in a loss or play poorly and win?
I’ll get the obvious out of the way. It’s best if Wisconsin football plays well and wins Saturday against Purdue. That’s just not as likely as one of these other two scenarios.
We’ve seen a lot of ugly football from the Badgers this year both in wins and losses. The wins were hard to rally behind because they weren’t always well played. And the losses were crushing because the Badgers stunk it up in those games and never really had a shot to win. Maybe the best performance of the year came against Iowa when Wisconsin was able to move the ball through the air. That feels like forever ago.
What the original question of this piece really asks is, is it okay if Wisconsin loses as long as they look like a competitive team? To that, I answer, absolutely. We haven’t seen that out of this Wisconsin football team and it’s what has caused most of the concern.
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Two years ago when Wisconsin went 11-3 with the three losses coming to the three best teams on the schedule, it was fine because Wisconsin was competitive in those losses. In every other game they played in, they won and dominated. There was a reason to believe the Badgers were actually a legitimate contender that year. They finished with three losses that year and have only four now. There’s still some time left to go, but the feelings around this team compared to that team are night and day.
I would prefer to see Wisconsin pull off this upset over a 5-5 Purdue team, (seriously, they’re only 5-5. This is one of the most intimidating 5-5 teams in college football history) but I’m content with a loss as long as the Badgers play well. As I mentioned yesterday, the rest of the season isn’t just about this season. It’s about the future of the program. Continuing to look lost on the football field is dangerous and wouldn’t make for a fun offseason. Even with a loss, if we can point to solid play to finish the year we can salvage hope for 2019 and beyond. It’s pretty bleak at the moment.
Plus, if Wisconsin plays well there’s no way it loses to Minnesota. The Gophers’ only hope is that the Badgers continue to stink it up and bumble and fumble their way to giving up the Ax. It’s just that Wisconsin has to…play well.
It’s very interesting to look at a football team, let alone one with a track record like Wisconsin’s, and hope to see more than just a win. You usually play to win the game but Wisconsin needs to show more. An ugly win would still leave me uncomfortable about Ax week and whatever bowl game Wisconsin ends up in.
Maybe I’ll eat these words come Saturday afternoon but I would really just prefer to see the Badgers put together a complete game plan and move the ball on offense. That could very well mean a win against Purdue’s so-so defense. But it will certainly mean a strong finish is in store for the rest of the year.