Badgers found recipe for success in undefeated regular season

Wisconsin's defense was a key reason for its undefeated regular season.

Image By: Brandon Moe

Minneapolis — The No. 5 Wisconsin Badgers (9-0 Big Ten, 12-0 overall) don’t have a secret recipe for an undefeated season. But they’re still happy to tell you how to do it.

Take two cups of preparation and mix in three tablespoons of meticulous attention to detail.

Stir with a laser-sharp focus and cover to avoid outside distractions.

Let sit for 13 weeks and then serve to Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game.

Sprinkle in grit to taste.

It’s that simple. That’s how UW came out of every single game victorious this season, a regular season capped off with a 31-0 shutout of the Minnesota Golden Gophers (2-7, 5-7).

The recipe for success didn’t change whether it was playing a ranked Michigan opponent coming to Camp Randall or a two-win Illinois team on the road. The preparation was the same, the mentality was the same. So it’s no real surprise the result was the same.

“If you get looking ahead, that’s how you slip up and that’s how you ruin the goals that you set out at the beginning of the year,” redshirt junior left tackle Michael Deiter said. “The best thing to do is to really focus the week’s task and to work that way, and hopefully everything should work out.”

The Badgers had no trouble focusing on Minnesota for their final game of the season. Paul Bunyan’s Axe provided plenty of motivation, but Wisconsin wasn’t going to allow an underachieving Gophers team to spoil their perfect season.

“We’ve got such a great group of guys in that locker room. It’s easy to focus on each week, week-to-week,” redshirt senior tight end Troy Fumagalli said. “It was axe week. Everybody loves axe week, looking forward to it, and we’re going to carry that forward. We’re 12-0 but all of our goals are still in front of us.”

It’s been the same message after every Badgers win: It’s just one game. Focus on the next one. Get better every day.

Paul Chryst has instilled a team-wide obsession with striving for a level of perfection that even they admit is unreachable.

“I do think we’re playing really well,” Deiter said. “But there’s never going to be a point where you say you’ve hit your peak. Everything can always be a little bit cleaner.”

Even in a blowout rivalry game, UW wanted more. 31-0 was as clean of a game as Wisconsin has played this season, but even just moments after it concluded, the Badgers saw missed opportunities and a Minnesota team that had two opportunities to hit field goals and put points on the board.

“The thing was, we were looking for a turnover,” redshirt junior safety D’Cota Dixon said. “Didn’t really get it today, but you can’t be too mad with the 3-and-outs.”

It’s a delicate balance between being confident in themselves and being hard on themselves. The Badgers believe in each other and truly believe they can beat anyone. But, at the same time, they never let that make them complacent or lose that drive for constant improvement.

It’s led them to an incredible season that none of the players will ever forget. But 12-0 was just 12 steps along the path towards an even bigger goal that continues to drive them.

“I don’t think you want to erase the regular season because that’s something historical. It’s memorable, but at the same time, you do have to move on,” Dixon said. “We do a good job of staying in the moment. We do a good job of preparing. I think that’s our advantage going into the week going against Ohio State.”

The Badgers have been burnt the last five times they’ve played the Buckeyes, but something new is cooking in Wisconsin, and chef Chryst has his recipe one step closer to perfection.

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