Badger Musings: Wisconsin Gets Gut Punched In Indy Again
Wisconsin Badgers might not want to come back to Lucas Oil Stadium. Indy is proving to be a house of horrors for this athletic department. First, the multiple Big Ten championship losses which is now at three straight, and second, the place of the NCAA Championship lost to Duke in basketball. This one stung even more as Ohio State held on 27-21 despite a furious comeback by Wisconsin. Buckeyes eliminated Wisconsin from contention for the College Football Playoff, and in fact, they knocked out the whole Big Ten. Indy will hopefully be kind to the Badgers, but it’s not this year.
Hornibrook will get criticized, but he did the best that he could
People will rush to criticize Hornibrook, and I’m not going to be one of those people. The guy actually played his ass off. He had career highs in completed passes and pass attempts meaning they had to do so much through the air which is very un-Wisconsin like. Hornibrook gave this team a legitimate chance to win at the end of the game. The only real knock was the first quarter interception. That swung the game in a major way early, and Wisconsin never really came back from it. Things might have been different if that opened up 7-0 or 3-0 Wisconsin.
Home run plays kill Wisconsin early
Oh man, Wisconsin really didn’t get beat on long plays all year until last night as Buckeyes railed off four 50-plus plays with two of them resulting in first half touchdowns. The speed of Ohio State caught up to Wisconsin a few times, and they had to play nearly perfect in order to contain the Buckeyes. That didn’t happen early letting Ohio State get loose and make things happen. J.K. Dobbins is the only running back to cause Wisconsin trouble all season. He’s going to be so good in years to come.
Zander Neuville’s underrated absence hurt Wisconsin
When we talk about injuries for this team, most will not bring up Xander Neuville, but he was a helluva blocking tight end for Wisconsin. He’s done for the year, and you saw how it impacted Wisconsin’s rushing attack. Jonathan Taylor was held in check for the first time in his career as a Badger running back. Not having Neuville meant Wisconsin didn’t really have a tight end to set the edge on runs. Things may have been different with these two teams.
Defense stood tall in second half
Wisconsin’s defense probably drew some criticism in the first half with giving up 21 points, but man, did they figure out J.T. Barrett in the second half? They held them to six points total. Dobbins broke free on a big run, and that was it from Ohio State’s offense. Leon Jacobs, T.J. Edwards and a host of others played really well in the second half. Jim Leonhard showed some big things down the stretch
Wisconsin will play in the Orange Bowl on Saturday, December 30th against Miami. This will be a ‘home’ game for The U, but I’m guessing the Badgers will have many of their faithful down in South Beach. Wisconsin-Miami will meet in their second bowl matchup as Bucky got the first W in 2009 in the Champs Sports Bowl. Hurricanes struggled mightily in the ACC title game.