The Wisconsin Badgers traveled to Bloomington, Indiana on Saturday for a matchup with the Indiana Hoosiers, who came into the game as one of two Big Ten teams without a conference win.
You could probably guess the result, as the Badgers lost in a 20-14 battle to the Hoosiers, dropping to 5-4 on the season and 3-3 in conference play.
The loss is easily the worst of the season for Wisconsin, and arguably the worst in recent history, given the outcome and the fact that Indiana entered Saturday with a 2-6 record, including 0-5 in conference play.
How did the Badgers drop an extremely winnable game?
It was ugly from the start for the Badgers, who gave up a touchdown on the opening drive to Indiana, allowing two different conversions on 3rd & 9 prior to the scoring play.
The Badgers saw some offensive success early, moving to the Indiana 42-yard line with help from a 15-yard penalty on the Hoosiers, but stalled on a 4th & 3, as Braedyn Locke couldn’t connect with Will Pauling to convert.
Things weren’t much better for Wisconsin on their second defensive drive, as the Hoosiers moved the ball 28 yards downfield after the strong starting field position, but Indiana missed a field goal, keeping it 7-0 after the first quarter.
Offense was rare for the Badgers, who punted on three consecutive drives, with Indiana winning the field position game by pinning Wisconsin inside their five-yard line and then forcing a punt.
That allowed Indiana to start at their 42-yard line on the ensuing possession, and they were able to generate some traction, although the defense held the Hoosiers to a field goal.
Bryson Green was the game changer in the first half for the Badgers, breaking away on a crosser for a 54-yard touchdown, which kept Wisconsin in the game.
Green ended with four catches, 96 yards, and a touchdown, all of which came in the first half.
However, the one-score lead wasn’t for long, as Indiana followed Wisconsin’s touchdown drive with one of their own, with Brendan Sorsby finding the 6’4 Donaven McCulley for the redzone score, making it 17-7 at the half.
At times, it seemed as if the Badgers went away from the run game in the first half, while going just 2/7 on third downs.
But, it was not the way that Wisconsin wanted to start on either side of the ball, putting them in a bind entering the second half.
The Badgers started the second half strong with an opening drive touchdown, with Braedyn Locke finding Will Pauling for an 18-yard score to make it a one-score game once again.
While the drive appeared to stall after a holding penalty on 2nd & 6, the Badgers were bailed out with a roughing the passer penalty on 3rd down, giving Wisconsin extra life.
Then, on the ensuing third down, the Badgers converted via a Braedyn Locke 23-yard completion to Riley Nowakowski, setting up the scoring opportunity.
However, that was all the offensive luck that Wisconsin got in the second half, as they were blanked for the rest of the game, while the defense held Indiana to a field goal, leaving the final score at 20-14.
The Badgers had several opportunities, however, driving all the way into the redzone, but then faced an inexcusable delay of game penalty before quarterback Braedyn Locke took a terrible sack, placing Wisconsin out of field goal range and forcing them to punt.
Later on, the Badgers drove into Indiana territory once again, facing a 4th & 2 at the Hoosiers 32-yard line, but Locke missed an open Will Pauling in the flat on a pass that sailed.
On the ensuing drive, Indiana drove down to score a field goal and that was enough, as the Badgers never scored following that possession, leading to an ugly 20-14 loss that leaves the program with several questions heading into the final weeks of the season .
Quarterback Braedyn Locke had his worst performance of the season, as the game was ultimately in his hands, yet the redshirt freshman could not pull through with his opportunities to win his team the game.
But, there were several issues, such as questionable playcalling, starting off slow, and certain head coaching decisions, leaving the Badgers in a precarious state with their Big Ten Championship odds as good as gone.
Now, the Badgers will look to regroup against the Northwestern Wildcats next weekend at Camp Randall Stadium, with the hope that injured running back Braelon Allen and wide receiver Chimere Dike will return.