Fiu On The Rose - Wisconsin Hits Its Ceiling
Posted Jan 2, 2012

Pete Fiutak's thoughts on Wisconsin's problems against Oregon in the Rose


By Pete Fiutak

- If you give up 621 yards of total offense, have the lead going into the fourth quarter, and turn the ball over twice in key situations, you forfeit the right to complain about the officials or the breaks in any way.

- Oregon got flagged seven times, Wisconsin three.

- But the Ducks could've been nailed with at least 15 more holding calls. Oregon's backs were fast enough to get to the outside and fly up the gut, and the Badgers missed too many stops, but the UW defensive line was getting tackled.

- It seemed like Russell Wilson took 19 days to get the ball out of his hands to spike it.

- But that's on the officials. Especially in college, if the offense does everything right to get to the line and get everyone set in hurry-up mode, it's up to the official to make it absolutely, 100% crystal clear when the clock is started. The timekeeper did his job going on the official's whistle, but that was a quick wind of the arm.

- It doesn't take 1.8 seconds to spike the ball.

- Seriously, knowing what Wilson had done all year, did anything think that Wisconsin wasn't going to send the thing to overtime if there was one second left on the clock?

- To go eight-grade girls' soccerspeak, in a way, both teams were winners.

- Except for Wisconsin.

- Oregon got over the hump and won The Big One. The offense worked on the big stage and Chip Kelly coached his tail off.

- Wisconsin stunk it up on defense, but the offense worked, the playcalling from Paul Cryst was solid, and the D came up with the one stop in the final seconds needed to get the ball back. The Badgers came up with 508 yards of total offense, had a near perfect balance – 212 rushing and 227 through the air – and they went toe-to-toe with a team that's national title-good.

- This was an acceptable loss. The loss to TCU last year wasn't.

- If you're Wisconsin, you need to have a State of the Program meeting and learn from the Nebraska model. The Huskers had won year after year, had Big 8 titles galore, and went to the big bowl games on a regular basis – and got smoked. Tom Osborne and company realized something had to change, and all of a sudden, Nebraska got faster, stronger, and more athletic in a big hurry. The program might have sold its soul for the Lawrence Phillips' of the team, but the national titles started to come. Wisconsin has to get it through its head that this is the ceiling. This is about as high as the program can get doing things the Wisconsin way – which entails recruiting a certain type of player that fits the mold. Instead, it's time to stop thinking of itself as a Little Engine That Could, and start going after the big-time recruits. The Badgers can absolutely play with anyone in the nation, but more speed is a must for the defensive back seven.

- However, Oregon is faster than everyone but LSU and Alabama. Don't blame Wisconsin for being slow against this team.

- It's time to give Darron Thomas credit for being a star. He carried the team when the ground game wasn't working against Auburn. He carried the offense when the ground game wasn't working against LSU. He went up against Wilson, one of the most efficient and effective passers in college football history, and he was just as good, if not better.

- If you're Oregon, it has to be a bit of a concern that everything went right, and everything worked, and yet it was still a fight down to the last second. Wisconsin might be an elite team, but if you roll up the yards Oregon did, and if the offense is working as well as it did, then it should've been a blowout.

- Here's the fundamental flaw in the Oregon belief that everything has to be fast, fast, fast on offense; the Duck D was GASSED in the fourth quarter after being on the field for so long.

- It wasn't a fluke in any way, shape, or form that Oregon won, but it was fortunate that the Badger formula didn't work. With a lead in the fourth quarter, UW should've been able to pound out the clock and take control of the game. One Wilson pick later, and that all changed.

- Don't worry, Badger fans. Penn State won't come within ten miles of the Leaders title next year, and Ohio State is ineligible. Wisconsin could pull a UCLA and play for the Big Ten title game by default. Then it'll be a one game shot to get back to Pasadena for a third straight year.

- And a second straight loss to Oregon, if the Ducks aren't playing for the national title.