Wisconsin might be the best team in the country with a losing record in conference play.
But the Badgers take little solace in nearly beating Michigan and Ohio State.
The back-to-back losses to the top-five schools saddled Wisconsin (4-2) with a 1-2 record in the Big Ten , two games back of unbeaten Nebraska in the West Division.
The good news for coach Paul Chryst’s team is that there is a still a realistic path to get to the league championship game to get another potential shot at the Wolverines or Buckeyes, though Wisconsin will need a little help.
“I don’t think they changed at all,” linebacker Jack Cichy said about the team’s goals. “It’s a bit of a hiccup but we’re going to take this adversity and we’re going to be better from it by the end of the year.”
Ohio State clawed past Wisconsin after halftime of its 30-23 win, needing a sack on fourth-and-goal from the 4 to finally finish off the Badgers. They dropped two spots in the AP Top 25 poll on Sunday to No. 10.
“That’s a great win against a very good team,” Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer said.
In Week 5, Wisconsin lost to Michigan 14-7 at the Big House. The Badgers’ signature wins have been against then-No. 5 LSU in the season opener, and then-No. 8 Michigan State in East Lansing.
Wisconsin plays West Division teams the rest of the way, starting with a tough game at Iowa next weekend. Nebraska visits Camp Randall Stadium for a night game the following week. The Badgers face another tough road game in Week 10 at Northwestern.
But that schedule seems easy compared to Michigan State-Michigan-Ohio State gantlet that Wisconsin just had to endure. The tested Badgers just need to make sure that their season doesn’t snowball after two straight losses.
“As soon as I leave this room, that’s when it ends and we turn the page,” running back Corey Clement said at a Camp Randall meeting room after the Buckeyes loss.
Clement was a bright spot after rushing for 164 yards for 25 carries against Ohio State’s tough defense. It was the kind of breakout night that Clement and the offensive line needed to build confidence for the second half of the season.
But even if the Badgers win out the rest of the way, they’ll still need Nebraska to lose at least one more game to draw into a tie atop the division with two losses. That could happen to Nebraska on Nov. 5 at Ohio State.
For now, the focus is just on the Hawkeyes.
“You know what, we got a ton to go forward with,” Chryst said. “We’re at the halfway point in our season. We got a lot of football ahead of us and some great challenges ahead of us, great opportunities.”
College Football: http://collegefootball.ap.org