Badgers Fall to Penn State in the Big Ten Championship

Badgers Fall to Penn State in the Big Ten Championship

Kyle Hoeppner and Alex Nannetti

On Saturday, December 3rd, the Wisconsin Badgers (10-3) faced the Penn State Nittany Lions (11-2) for the Big Ten Championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana, home to the Indianapolis Colts. Penn State topped the Badgers, 38-31.

Going into this matchups, both teams came off a series of wins. Penn state had an eight-game win streak, including a win against No. 2 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes.

Wisconsin had a six game win streak following their only two, but close, losses of the season to two top five teams, Michigan Wolverines and Ohio State. The Badgers win streak also included a crucial victory over the Nebraska Huskers.

Penn State was able to get into the Big Ten Championship by winning the East Division of the Big Ten Conference. They achieved this with a conference record of 8-1, beating Ohio State, and having Ohio State knock Michigan out of championship contention.

Wisconsin dominated the West Division with their stellar defense with a divisional record of 6-0 and 7-2 conference record. Even though they beat the Minnesota Golden Gophers on November 26th, they clinched the division a day prior after Nebraska lost to the Iowa Hawkeyes a whopping 40-10, knocking them out of contention.

During the first half of the game, Wisconsin’s defence dominated. They scored 28 points, including a pick-six (a defense return for a touchdown). Despite the early success in the first half, the Badgers allowed Penn State to score a second touchdown before halftime to reduce the 21 point lead to 14. The halftime score was 28-14.

Throughout Penn State’s season, they won every game when trailing at halftime, and ended up proving that fact after the second half commenced.

In the article “Football: Wisconsin blows three-touchdown lead, falls to Penn State 38-31 in Big Ten title game” on the Badger Herald by Chris Bumbaca, Wisconsin Badgers safety, D’Cota Dixon said he was very disappointed in himself and his team.

“‘I honestly had faith,’ junior safety D’Cota Dixon said after the game. ‘I never thought we were going to lose, even in the last minute. I thought we were going to get a turnover, get a first down, tie it. It’s on us. I personally will take responsibility as a safety on this team.’”

The Nittany Lions outscored the Badgers 24-3 over the game’s final 30 minutes.

After an overwhelming feeling that the Badgers would win the Big Ten Championship for the third time in six years, Wisconsin in reality would allow 10 unanswered points in the fourth quarter and allow Penn State to win its first conference championship.

Arrowhead senior and Badger fan, David Widenski, said he was stunned.

“What did we have, a 21 point lead at one point in the first half?” said Widenski. “I’m feeling hurt and should have had it.”

The Wisconsin Badgers failed to do many things in the second half of the game. They failed to get first downs. They had drives that were three and out, forcing them to punt. They also gave up big plays on defense. The Badgers secondary gave up big plays to Penn State wide receivers that were touchdowns or lead to touchdowns. They were flat. The offense was sluggish and the defense was gassed from being on the field most of the game.

Penn State, now the Big Ten Champions, will go to the Rose Bowl and face the USC Trojans on Monday, January 2nd at 4:00 pm at At&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, home of the Dallas Cowboys.

Wisconsin will go on to play the Western Michigan Broncos in the Cotton Bowl on Monday, January 2nd at noon at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.