Wisconsin Football: Nittany Lions spoil Badgers BCS hopes

Wisconsin football was ranked No.15 in the BCS before playing Saturday, one spot away from reaching a BCS bowl at-large bid. All the Badgers needed to do was come out with a victory over Penn State and their hopes and dreams of playing in the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida would come true. Very disappointingly, Wisconsin let those hopes and dreams slip right through their fingers and now have dropped to No.21 in the BCS-rankings.

Gary Andersen and the Wisconsin Badgers have only themselves to blame after suffering a heartbreaking and stunning 24-31 loss to Penn State over the weekend. The 24-point underdog Nittany Lions and head coach Bill O’Brien, spoiled Wisconsin’s plans of playing in a BCS-bowl game and those hopes and dreams will all they ever will be.

Before the games start, Wisconsin honored their class of 2013 that composed of 26 seniors in front of the 78,064 fans that filled the seats in Camp Randall. The senior class of 2013 finished with a 25-3 record at home and will go down in Wisconsin football history has one of the most successful and dominating classes ever. Unfortunately, their heartbreaking third loss at home to Penn State will leave an everlasting rancid taste in their mouth’s and will most likely be the one game they will never forget.

It was apparent that Wisconsin assumed this game would be a cake-walk and come out with an easy win to end the regular season. While the Badgers were busy over-looking the Nittany Lions, freshman quarterback Christain Hackenberg and company, flat-out punched Wisconsin straight in the mouth. Penn State set the tone early, scoring on their first drive when Hackenberg connected with Adam Brebeman down field for a 68-yard touchdown. Hackenberg had turned down a scholarship from Alabama to come play for Bill O’Brian and was arguably the Badgers first true passing threat they have faced since facing Arizona State’s Brett Hundley in Week 3. Hackenberg threaded the needle all game long and had Wisconsin’s superior defense looking confused and lost out on the field. He finished the game 21-30 for 339-yards and 4 touchdowns.
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Down 14-31 with 12-minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the Badgers made things a bit more interesting scoring a quick 10-unanswered points to make it a 24-31 game. The play of the game came with less than 4-minutes to go when Penn State’s running back, Zach Zwinak bursted for a 61-yard scamper down the field on third down. Although the series ended with a missed field-goal, the Badgers were left with just 31-seconds to make a miracle happen. The game ended with a Joel Stave hail-mary attempt that was intercepted by Ryan Keiser as time expired.

Stave has been complimented all season long for his awareness and composure in the pocket. That was not the case on Saturday as he appeared to look like a freshman quarterback, starting in his first ever Big Ten football game. Granted, the Badgers struggled to get the ball moving on the ground, totaling just 120-yards. Due to the lack of success rushing the ball and trailing the Nittany Lions, the Badgers threw the ball for a season high, 53-attempts. Stave finished just 29 of 53 for 339-yards, 3 touchdowns and a devastating 3 interceptions.

However, the defensive struggles of the Badgers was embarrassing to say the least. The dominant defense fans have been accustomed to watching was no where to be found. Prior to playing Penn State, Wisconsin’s defense had only allowed 1 play in 721 snaps to go for over 50-yards. The Badgers gave up 4 plays to the Nittany Lions that all went for over 52-yards and allowed the the opposing offense to gain a total of 465-yards.

Gary Andersen and company will need to take a long look in the mirror at themselves while they await the news of which bowl game they will be playing in. The Badger’s will most likely find themselves playing in the leagues top non-BCS game, the Capital One Bowl on January 1st. Wisconsin football fans everywhere are hoping the Badger’s can put this last loss in their rear-view mirror, come out hungry to win their bowl game and end the season on a positive note