No, not that kind of whiskey, although we could all probably use a little just to drain our recent sorrows. If you think we’ve had it rough lately, I have good sources that tell me Wisconsin fans have suffered even worse in 2018 as they watched their own season go down the drain with an unexpected loss to BYU early in September. Beatdowns to both Michigan and to a pesky Northwestern team two weeks ago all but slammed the door shut on any chance of the Badgers making another appearance in Indy representing the Big Ten West division this December.
So it’s us and Wiscy on deck, two preseason dreamers left to pick up the scraps of what could have been. This one had all the makings of a Big Ten Championship game preview for both sides when the schedule was analyzed back when the sun came out on the regular. Instead, it’s turned into a game of pride and two teams trying their best to get back on track. Welcome to Happy Valley Wisconsin, where the ground is as soggy as a sponge and epic tailgates have taken a backseat to the newfound dilemma of where 100k are going to park. As if three losses weren’t enough, Mother Nature decided to punch us in the gut and really make us feel the pain. I’m not normally one to sulk, but if we ever needed a win this week is the one.
Our leader is ailing and our backs are against the wall again. The sweet taste of a hard-fought win over Iowa has been replaced by the horror of what went down in Ann Arbor. We’re being tested the likes of which we haven’t been in over two years. It seems like ages ago, but it really wasn’t. Three losses out of five and it seems like an eternity since we were out there giving Ohio State all they could handle, right down to the very last play. The infamous 4th and 5. If it hadn’t ended in such a thunderous dud, would things be different? We’ll never know. Ironically, the hated Buckeyes haven’t fared too well since that clash on September 29th either and their fans are all in an uproar like us. I can’t help but wonder if we both left our souls out there on the turf, the victims of a blizzard.
On deck is Wiscy, with an identical record and an identical urgency to save a season. The Badgers are playing with a D that’s been decimated by injury and have been relying on a talented but young group to fill the holes. Their offense is the biggest conundrum as they returned virtually intact from an Orange Bowl that saw them firing on all cylinders but have only been a shell of themselves in 2018. Sound familiar? To add even more fuel to the fire of mystery, the all-time record between these two is split down the middle at 9 wins apiece, although Penn State is riding a 3-game winning streak which includes that magical run in Indy and the Senior Day victory in 2012 that no-one will soon forget. It’s Penn State v. Wisconsin at high noon on the soggy grounds of Beaver Stadium and something’s got to give to tip the scales. In the words of Bill O’Brien, the Nittany Lions come out ‘like a bunch of fighters (wink, wink) and prove a season on the brink isn’t over just yet: PSU 27, Wisconsin 13.