Blog Entry

Heartbreak finds Wisconsin once again

Posted on: January 2, 2012 11:04 pm
Edited on: January 2, 2012 11:06 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer

PASADENA, Calif. -- Been there, done that.

It's a saying as common as a Wisconsin fan jumping around before the 4th quarter. The Badgers ended their second consecutive trip to the Rose Bowl under head coach Bret Bielema much the same as they did their first - on the losing end.

For a team just two Hail Mary losses away from playing for the national title, this was supposed to be it. A hotshot transfer quarterback and a Heisman Trophy finalist running back playing behind him against a team that saw defense as outscoring their opponent. They held the lead early, held it late but ultimately didn't hold it when it mattered.

"This team never flinched, never wavered," said offensive lineman Peter Konz. "Against Michigan State we kept going, against Ohio State we kept going. It came down to winning all our last games, and we did that. We got here and we never gave up. In that reflection, it's unbelievable. As a man you can look back and go, 'I did all I could do.'"

"I'm kind of tired of tears of sadness," Bielema said. "I wanted to come out here and experience tears of joy at some point."

For a time, it looked as though Wisconsin was going to be great. Russell Wilson hit Jared Abbrederis for a 38-yard strike to cap off a 77-yard drive to open the game. Oregon answered.

Wilson responded with a 74-yard scoring drive. The Ducks took three plays to find the end zone. Back-and-forth they went on the perfectly cut grass of the Rose Bowl Stadium until Wisconsin was finally being tripped up. So close, once again, to a win but for one final time coming up just short.

"The game was basically 0-0 the whole game," Wilson said. "No matter if the score was 35-35 or 7-7, it's a 0-0 game. That's the way I look at it. There at the end it was 7-0, and we thought we could come back and score."

Success is a fleeting term for those who have tasted it because it is so easily lost. In the record books, this season will be looked at as a success. A win in the first ever Big Ten Championship Game, two candidates for the Heisman, scores of NCAA records to tell recruits about. Yet, the stinging feeling the players wearing red and white had walking off the field was not exactly the way they wanted to start the new year off.

"We'll rebound from this. I wouldn't trade in anything, anyplace in the world for that locker room that I have right now and the way that they continue to persevere," Bielema said. "I'm not going to apologize for a group that want to lead the division title, won a Big Ten title, and earned a chance to come out here and play a quality football team, and unfortunately came up a little bit short."

Bielema has built this program using size, strength and home-grown talent. He took a chance by luring Wilson to Madison and it paid off, not just with the titles but by the leadership he showed on and off the field. Ball ran himself into the record books, tying Barry Sanders' FBS-record.

But, in the final five minutes of the biggest game of the year, Abbrederis fumbled inches from going out of bounds and essentially gave away any chance the Badgers had of winning.

Heartbreak, it seemed, was the only thing that could stop Wisconsin this year.

"Well, it's never easy," the head coach said. "I'm not saying I'd rather lose by 40 points though. I mean, it just make it's that much more gut wrenching. But on the same account, you can hold your head high knowing the perseverance, and the challenge and response that our guys showed was truly amazing and a great credit to their character."

Abbrederis still finished with 346 all-purpose yards, good enough for a school bowl record. He caught a touchdown pass to give the team three players with at least eight on the season for the first time. Wilson edged out Heisman winner Robert Griffin III to set an NCAA pass efficiency record with 191.78 and extended his own record with a touchdown pass in his 38th-straight game.

"They're a great bunch of guys that have the determination," said Wilson. "We lost three games, basically, with a total of maybe within 40 seconds. It's pretty wild."

"What I brought from last year to this year is you have to capitalize on every play and every opportunity that is shown. Obviously, we fell short once again," said Ball. "We're going to approach this just like we did last year after the loss. Obviously, a little better, prepared a lot better, but the only way we can go with it is forward."

Wisconsin turned last year's heartbreak into another successful season. As the Badgers rebuild with Wilson and, likely, Ball moving on, perhaps they can do the same in 2012.

"That's neither here or there, what happens, happens," said Konz, reflecting about the game. "It's just too bad it had to end on another last-second drive.

"We left it all on the field, and to do that, there's very little to be sad about.”


Since: Nov 18, 2010
Posted on: January 4, 2012 4:41 pm

Heartbreak finds Wisconsin once again

Great Game!  We have been on the losing end many a time and I know the feeling.   But there was nothing to be ashamed of in Wisconsin's performance.    A couple of ball bounces either way changes the result.
Good Fortune in 2012!  

Since: Nov 18, 2010
Posted on: January 4, 2012 4:38 pm

Heartbreak finds Wisconsin once again


Be careful what you wish for...................Without having Russell as a transfer, would your team have done as well?

But my main comment is:

It wasn't Bret Bielema that fumbled the ball.

It was a game of close calls and serious points.   Wisconsin played a good game, but came up a bit short.   Doesn't mean the coach has to go.  Don't agree with that.     

Since: Oct 18, 2006
Posted on: January 3, 2012 2:35 pm

Heartbreak finds Wisconsin once again

I do understand your point jack seriously. Wiskys football program was a joke before Barry Alvarez but there in lies the issue. Barry set a standard (which argueably might be tough for anyone to duplicate, tough shoes to fill for Bielema). BB's football, given the amount of NFL talent he's had, especially the last two years, fell below that standard and I'm not referring specifically to wins. Game decisions, clock management, team preperation and execution (at least as it appears to the viewer, no, I'm not privy to the day to day pre-game routine). BB's teams fail to even meet the standard Alvarez left. Right now there are a number of quality coaching candidates and with the likelihood of losing Ball along with Russell, now would be, how did Capt. Jack Sparrow put it? "If you were waiting for the opportune moment? That was it!"

Since: Dec 1, 2009
Posted on: January 3, 2012 10:27 am

Heartbreak finds Wisconsin once again

It saddens me the extent to which so many of today's sports fans go off the rails when they don't get that ONE special toy under their tree. Get reasonable expectations, people. Bielema is not only a h*ll of a coach, he's quite obviously the right man for Wisconsin. Is he perfect? I don't follow him closely enough to speak with certainty as to his blind spots and limitations, but even Don Shula failed to win a  Super Bowl with Dan Marino, so I'd suppose not. What of it? Look, it's not a matter of setting your expectations low so you aren't disappointed. Rather, it's a question of whether massaging your pique is worth rolling the dice and coming up craps when five sides of each cube has only a single pip. Getting a guy who can put you in contention for great things is a d*mn sight better than ending up with a fish out of water like Rich Rod at Michigan.

I grew up a fan of the Wolverines. Bo Schembechler was a great coach and I still adore the ugly S.O.B. That said, I spent many a Saturday screaming at him to make a few changes in what wasn't working BEFORE halftime. Or begging him to PLEASE let somebody with a little less German stubbornness call the plays late in a big game. (If you're frustrated, then take a gander at Bo's record in bowls to get an idea of why so many old Michigan fans are now as hairless as a baby's backside.) Never lost sight of the big picture, though, because I KNEW that he was the right guy for us. You've got one of those guys; be careful about what you wish. The 'insiders' at Michigan who wore Lloyd Carr down got the three most miserable and EMBARRASSING seasons in school history for their efforts.

Since: Oct 18, 2006
Posted on: January 3, 2012 12:54 am

Heartbreak finds Wisconsin once again

wiskcg, no blasting here. Brett Bielema football? Beat 4 pansies (barely), win your home games, split on the road and go lose in a bowl game. He isn't what Wisconsin needs and right now there are some good choices out there. Barry, axe BB for the betterment of the program. Oh yeah, all the while sending 3 or 4 players to the NFL every year, great coaching. Hey, maybe they can make the defense coordinator the next head coach huh?

Since: Jan 3, 2008
Posted on: January 2, 2012 11:33 pm

Heartbreak finds Wisconsin once again

I know the Bielema cheerleaders will blast me for this, but it is time for him to go. This year, he was handed the keys to the kingdom with Wilson and Ball and still came up short against the only truly good teams he faced, other than winning the BT championship game with a couple of hail mary heaves from Wilson. That to me is a pattern that has continue under his tenure now, and he shows nothing that gives me any hope that things will improve from here on out. He has done a decent job overall, but one thing I do not see him doing is accepting responsibility for any of the stupid game time decisions he continues to make, especially with clock management and timeouts. The Big Ten was incredibly weak this year and it should have been a cakewalk to an undefeated season, but again it ends with major disappointment.

I'm sure many of you will point to the defense, which is fair, but in the end, that is also Bielema's responsibility. Yet he continues to treat this like they just had another fantastic season that just came up "a little short". That to me is just unacceptable. Maybe many of you are satisfied with these kinds of seasons, but I am not without some reason to believe it will get better.

Just imagine what a good solid coach like Alvarez would have done with this team if you don't believe me.     

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