CFN Analysis: The Badger Big Ten Blowout
Posted Dec 2, 2012

Wisconsin destroys Nebraska in a stunning Big Ten championship.

Richard Cirminiello

Wisconsin did more than simply win the Big Ten championship in improbable fashion. It obliterated the notion that its appearance in the game would have an asterisk next to it. Sure, the Badgers trip to Indianapolis was made possible by sanctions levied on Ohio State and Penn State, but 70 points slapped on 10-win Nebraska will make a lot of folks forget who was the 7-5 team in this one.

The way this game played out, it had the feel of a bowl game, in which one team was rusty and had spent too much time partaking in local attractions. It wasn't. In fact, both teams played a week ago, a credit to the Wisconsin staff for doing such a remarkable job in such a short period of time. It could be a long time, on the other hand, before Bo Pelini gets over this debacle. A very long time.

In Wisconsin's worst season in ages, it still wound up winning a third Big Ten title in a row. Sure, there were extenuating circumstances, but Bret Bielema can coach, and shouldn't be so easily dismissed when his program hits a rough patch.

Is the Big Ten worried that it's sending a five-loss team to Pasadena? Or is it breathing a sigh of relief that its representative just got done putting on an incredible show in front of a national audience?

After watching Montee Ball, James White and the rest of the Badgers rush for more than 500 yards, I'm already looking forward to the Rose Bowl matchup with Stanford's top-ranked run defense.

After dropping three overtime games in the last four weeks, Wisconsin finally found a remedy for its losing ways—assault the other team from the opening kickoff, making sure that the outcome is never in doubt in the second half.

It's been a challenging year for Ball, a good kid and an outstanding back. It's good to see it end on a high note, especially since he returned to Madison for his senior year when he could have been cashing NFL paychecks right now.

By Matt Zemek
E-mail Matt Zemek

The 2010 Wisconsin Badgers went 11-1 in the regular season. The 2011 Wisconsin Badgers went 11-2 in the regular season. The 2012 Wisconsin Badgers went 8-5 in the regular season.

All three teams made the Rose Bowl.

With a nod of thanks to Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith, Wisconsin – a third-place team in its own division (just like Georgia Tech in the ACC) – nevertheless received a chance to win its conference. The Badgers, to their full credit, took advantage of the opportunity. What was particularly impressive about this blowout is that Wisconsin – having blown a 17-point lead to Nebraska in the first meeting between these teams in 2012 – could have found it challenging to get off to another strong start. It easily could have been the case that Nebraska – given a rematch – would have turned the tables on the Badgers in much the same way that Alabama flipped the script in its rematch with LSU this past January.

Call Wisconsin the Big Ten champion for 2012. Congratulate Bret Bielema for a second straight triumph in the Big Ten Championship Game.

Just don't say that a five-loss team belongs in a high-dollar BCS bowl. One can respect Wisconsin's achievement and yet lament the system that shepherds a slightly above average team into an event as prestigious as the Granddaddy Of Them All.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the divide, Nebraska – given its best chance to win a conference championship in 13 years – failed miserably. The inability to be ready to play against one of the more ho-hum Wisconsin teams in recent memory will undo the work Bo Pelini had done through the first three months of the season. Everything Nebraska achieved in September, October and November was wiped away in December.

Is that verdict harsh? For some teams and some situations, yes. Not for this team. Not against a five-loss foe. Not in this year's Big Ten. Nebraska had to play with passion and purpose, but only Wisconsin decided to show up in Indianapolis. We'll see if this loss carries into 2013 and creates a psychic wound from which Pelini's program cannot recover.

By Bart Doan
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If Bret Bielema is a golfer, he's the guy out there topping the ball on the range before dropping a 68 on you when you hit the links. There's not much to say about this game, other than whatever Bo Pelini is doing tonight, I'd advise not being in the same vicinity.

I'm sure Jim Delany wanted to go to bed early, a grotesque (from a competitive standpoint) end to what was a salty B1G season. Shots of the stadium showed the entire Indianapolis Colts logo visible in the second deck because so few fans turned out to watch what was a surprising bloodletting.

The stats read like something off of a really bad video game, where your buddies come in and ask what satisfaction you get using Alabama and scheduling Delaware State. At one point, Bucky Badger had 70 points on 100 passing yards. Heck, starter Curt Phillips, deep into the fourth, had one more passing yard than they had points.

Bielema was up to his old tricks, using all of the playbook again in the B1G title game, shades of last year. This time it was Phillips, not Russell Wilson catching a pass deep in opponent territory.

This was a thrashing, in every sense of the word. Not much to analyze, not much to comb over. They say conference championships are the primary goal once that first blood has been drawn on the season. For Wisconsin, it was clear they spent the better part of the last two months groveling for this one, that ends in another B1G crown.