The Wisconsin Badgers went into yesterday’s game heavily favored at home to defeat the Penn State Nittany Lions and further cement their resume for a BCS at-large bid. 465 yards of offense and 31 points allowed later, Wisconsin is faced with the reality of their BCS bowl dreams have been lost with yesterday’s game.
The Badgers’ third loss of the season came mostly because of an inability to defend the pass. Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg had one of the best games of his career, throwing for 339 yards and four touchdowns on 21-of-30 passing. Nittany Lion wide receiver Allen Robinson was a matchup issue for the Wisconsin secondary all game, grabbing eight passes for 122 yards. Complementing Robinson was fellow receiver Eugene Lewis, whose three receptions for 91 yards and two touchdowns helped make room for Robinson.
Penn State’s defensive unit was able to slow down the Badger running game just enough to win this game. The Nittany Lions held Wisconsin to just 120 yards rushing, less than half of the Badgers’ average production. Both Melvin Gordon and James White were held under 100 yards rushing. Based on Wisconsin’s body of work this season it appears that the Badgers had a bad day. The timing of this couldn’t have been much worse for Wisconsin, however.
Voters in the two human polls that are parts of the BCS are looking for consistency and teams that are playing their best football at this point of the season. Early season losses are less damaging than losses in the last week of the regular season — especially home losses to unranked opponents. This loss coming at the time it did will drop the Badgers all the way out of the BCS standings.
While Wisconsin should still have a great shot at one of the Big Ten‘s New Year’s Day bowl games, they had the opportunity for a lot more this season. Because of their inability to execute in their last opportunity to state their BCS case they won’t be playing in a BCS bowl game this year.