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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Saturday, May 18, 2024

Russell Wilson and the Badgers will try to bounce back in a key Big Ten matchup with Purdue after two painful losses.

Wisconsin aims to learn from adversity

Coming into the showdown against Ohio State, the No. 19 Wisconsin football team (2-2 Big Ten, 6-2 overall) was poised to make a statement and redeem itself after a devastating loss at Michigan State. Yet, in spite of the Badgers late rally, the nightmare from MSU returned when Buckeyes freshman quarterback Braxton Miller connected on a 40-yard touchdown to freshman wide receiver Devin Smith to nullify Wisconsin’s incredible comeback and give the Buckeyes a 33-29 victory.

While clearly disappointed about lost opportunities that might have prevented the defeat, head coach Bret Bielema stressed about taking accountability and moving forward.

 “[We are] within a play or two arguably of winning each game, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out 8-0 sounds a lot better than 6-2,” Bielema said. “We kind of always talked about in our program being accountable for what we saw. Bottom line is we lost two games, and you have to own it and embrace it.”

The Badgers will go back to the drawing board and work out some of the issues that have plagued them in the past two weeks, particularly  on the defensive side of the ball.

Even with the strong play of junior linebacker Mike Taylor, who recorded 22 tackles, the Badgers’ defense was unable to stymie the Buckeyes’ running game and surrendered over 250 rushing yards.

“We let the quarterback outside the pocket, and obviously the communication and busted coverage is unacceptable and its something we definitely have to correct,” Bielema said.“I would say most of our issues that have popped up have become two things: either a wrong alignment or assignment or lack of communication.”

Senior quarterback Russell Wilson talked about the minor adjustments that the Badgers need to address.

“We are doing a good job of converting when we need to and making plays when we need to, but there’s that little thing we are missing,” Wilson said. “A block, a throw, whatever it is we have to capitalize on that.”

The Badgers will need to take care of their business as they face Purdue in a pivotal divisional matchup as both teams are tied 2-2 in the Leaders Division. Wisconsin has won the last five games against Purdue but struggled last year as it was down 10-6 at halftime and had to fight back in the second half to secure the 34-14 victory.

“Purdue returns more players than any other team in our league, and you can see where they play very well in stretches, Bielema said. “They have speed. Defensive line wise they have big guys inside that are going to be a difficult task for us. Their athetltic at the linebacker spot so it will be a tough contest.”

The Badger defense will also be tested as it faces Purdue’s spread offense, which utilizes the wildcat formation to throw off defenses.

“Out of all those spread teams, they have someone who impersonates the quarterback,” Bielema said. “Purdue ran a reverse when the quarterback was lined up as a receiver and threw it downfield, so we have to make sure our bases are covered and everyone is high aware.”

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Wilson relishes the opportunity for the team to make a statement against Purdue and show this team is still capable of winning games.

“The main things is looking at it as another opportunity,” Wilson said. “If you love the game of football, every opportunity is a blessing and every opportunity is a chance to excel on the football field.”

The poise and perseverance Wilson exudes is a trait he attributes to his father, who taught him never to stop battling on the field until the clock ran out.

“My dad taught me about preserving,” Wilson said. “No matter what is going on in your life, no matter what is the situation during the game, you just have to keep pushing and keep working.”

“We lost a couple games on heartaches that will last for a lifetime, but in the end it makes all of us stronger,” Bielema said.

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