Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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Schelling: Buckeye loss not bad in long-run

Wisconsin’s first loss of the season Saturday was ugly.

It was a huge disappointment that could have been avoided. It showed why the Badgers were not ranked in the AP poll. And it ended their (albeit small) chance of a national championship.

But it was just what they needed.

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Now, I know a lot of people will say a loss is never better than a win, and they’re right in the most basic sense, but for the overall success of the Badgers this season, a loss in Columbus could actually help shape this team.

Sure, if they had won the biggest game of the season so far they would have made a huge jump in the polls and had a chance at going undefeated in 2009. But it’s not like a loss at Ohio State really changes anything.

“One loss isn’t anything, it doesn’t make the whole season,” defensive end O’Brien Schofield said following Saturday’s game. “We still have six games left and we’ve got a chance to still do some great things.”

And when you look back, going into the season everyone — including The Badger Herald’s stats editor Max Henson, who expected a big year for Wisconsin — likely circled Saturday’s game as one that was a sure loss for UW. So, when they do lose that game, it’s expected.

Even if they had won, it would have been a bonus more than anything, kind of like the Twins winning a game in the playoffs, or Terrelle Pryor completing a pass.

So there is no reason to get down on this team after losing to Ohio State. The Buckeyes showed why they’re ranked so high: great defense and special teams.

But the Badger defense actually played better overall, they just weren’t as opportunistic. They held Pryor to just 87 yards passing on 5-of-13 and 35 yards rushing on 10 attempts. It’s not often you stop a team’s quarterback like that and still come out on the wrong end of the final score.

And that is why the loss showed the Wisconsin football team is not quite to the point of being the best in the Big Ten just yet. They could finish atop the standings in six weeks, but right now, they’re the fourth best team in the conference, at best.

You cannot make the mistakes UW made in a game on the road against the conference’s top-ranked team. Not when your defense plays as well as it has all year.

Yet, with that in mind, Wisconsin still should be as focused as ever on winning this week’s homecoming matchup with No. 11 Iowa. The game has not lost any importance with the loss to the Buckeyes.

If anything, it has become more important, since it’s unlikely a team with two losses in conference play will take home the Big Ten title. The Badgers need to win to keep their hopes of a Rose Bowl and conference championship alive.

Also, now that they’ve faced defeat for the first time this season, Wisconsin will not be overconfident against the always-dangerous Hawkeyes.

If the Badgers had gone into the Horseshoe and dominated a top-ranked Buckeye squad, they could have come home riding high at 6-0 and likely ranked in the top 15 in both polls. They would be looking at the Iowa game as an opportunity to remain undefeated in their pursuit of the national championship, as opposed to an opportunity to get their season back on track.

“I think [the loss is] going to light the fire under them, and I’m going to make sure that it happens,” safety Chris Maragos said of his teammates. “I’m looking forward to it … I’m excited about this team.”

With a win over Iowa, the Badgers still could move into great position in the Big Ten standings. With just one loss and the toughest remaining games at home versus Michigan and in Evanston against Northwestern, Wisconsin would be primed to make a run at the conference title.

Iowa and Ohio State, on the other hand, still have to play each other. One team has to lose that game, and at that point, the Badgers would become big fans of Kirk Ferentz’s Iowa squad, as a Hawkeye win would go a long way toward Wisconsin’s Big Ten title chances.

On top of that, the Buckeyes still have to go to Happy Valley and face Penn State the week before facing Iowa, so a two-game losing streak could easily be in their future.

So that’s where the Badgers sit. They still received the 30th-most votes in both polls, which means both the media and the coaches believe they’re still a good football team, despite a tough loss in Ohio.

With a win on Saturday at Camp Randall, Wisconsin can enter its name in the mix for the Rose Bowl. A loss, on the other hand, and the Badgers can plan on another trip to Florida.

Jordan is a senior majoring in journalism and political science. Do you think the Badgers are headed for another collapse? Let him know at [email protected]

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