Have any of you ever seen the graphic on the internet of a triangular pattern that Wisconsin football fans find themselves in every year? On each point of the triangle is a different emotion a Wisconsin football fan goes through. One point is ‘I get disappointed again,’ which is where we were at the beginning of the season. The next is ‘I start to believe again.’ This was the phase we were in after the Badgers rattled off seven wins in a row. Then, there’s always the ‘I get my hopes up’ point, which is where we all were on Saturday.
Well, it happened again.
After the very disappointing loss to Minnesota, we are now squarely in the ‘I get disappointed again’ point of the Wisconsin Badgers Triangle of Life.
The Badgers entered the game with a chance to win two things. First, a share of the Big Ten West division title. With the tiebreaker over Iowa, the Badgers would have moved on to Indianapolis to get another shot at the Wolverines and play for the conference championship. The second, and possibly more important for some fans, was Paul Bunyan’s Axe.
The Badgers left Minneapolis with neither.
In the game, it looked like the Gophers had the Wisconsin defense figured out. They moved the ball consistently enough to get some points on the board.
But the downfall of the game was the Wisconsin offense, their Achille’s heel all season long. With a banged-up Braelon Allen, the Badgers could seem to get the running game going. After seven straight 100+ yard rushing games for Allen, he was held to just 47 yards on 17 carries and no touchdowns. In fact, Wisconsin’s only touchdown came from a pick-six from the defense early in the game.
Mertz couldn’t quite seem to let the ball rip. It felt like every ball he threw hung up in the air as it did earlier in the season. He finished 21-38 (55%) for 171 yards and an interception that a Minnesota defender wrestled away from Kendric Pryor at the start of the second half, giving the Gophers great field position.
Overall, the offense stunk. That’s about all I can say about it. Minnesota outcoached the Badgers, which isn’t something that happens a whole lot to this Wisconsin football coaching staff.
I hate to say it because I think P.J. Fleck is probably one of the biggest egocentric ‘look at me’ coaches in the NCAA, but hats off the Gophers coaching staff. They were ready for Wisconsin and rolled over them, taking the Axe back to Minnesota with them.
So now it’s time to move on and look forward to bowl season. Thanks to the Badgers’ great second half of the season, they are surely in line to get a decent bowl game. Maybe not a New Year’s bowl game, but a nice bowl game nonetheless.
Let’s enjoy one last game with this squad because there are a lot of players that won’t be wearing the Cardinal and White next season in Madison.