Originally posted on Fox Sports Wisconsin  |  Last updated 10/30/11
Another week of Big Ten football for Wisconsin resulted in another minor miracle in the last minute. For the second straight game, the Badgers were on the wrong end of that virtually miraculous play.Wisconsin lost, 33-29, against Ohio State on Saturday night, when Buckeyes quarterback Braxton Miller connected with Devin Smith on a 40-yard touchdown pass with 20 seconds remaining in the game. The Badgers dropped to 6-2 overall, 2-2 in Big Ten play.Here are five things we learned from Saturday nights game:1. Wisconsins Big Ten title hopes are all but gone. Even after suffering a 37-31 last-second loss against Michigan State one week ago, the Badgers still maintained control of their Big Ten destiny. If Wisconsin won its final five regular-season games, a spot in the first-ever Big Ten championship game was guaranteed.Now? Not so much.The Badgers are suddenly locked in a three-way tie for second place at 2-2 with Ohio State and Purdue in the Leaders Division. Obviously, Wisconsin trails Ohio State by way of Saturdays loss. But the Badgers now trail 5-0 Penn State, which defeated Illinois 10-7 on Saturday, by 2 12 games in the division.In other words, the dream of salvaging a Big Ten championship looks bleak. The national championship hopes ended a week ago. Now, a shot at the Rose Bowl is likely gone, too.A far less alluring bowl game such as the Capital One Bowl, the Outback Bowl or the Gator Bowl is more realistic. All three are after New Years Eve, but its not the post-New Years bowl game any Badgers fan expected. 2. The law of averages was bound to catch up with the Badgers. Wisconsin entered Saturdays game ranked in the top eight in the FBS in points scored (fifth, at 47.4), rushing offense (eighth, 252) and total offense (eighth, 512).On Saturday, the Badgers came nowhere close to matching their numbers in any of those categories against a staunch Buckeyes defense.Most glaring were the numbers in Wisconsins rushing game. The Badgers gained just 89 yards on 29 rushing attempts. Their previous low number was 208 yards rushing against Oregon State on Sept. 10.Wisconsin amassed 342 yards of total offense, its lowest output of the season.3. Russell Wilson knows how to lead a comeback. Say this about Wisconsins superstar quarterback: This loss certainly wasnt on him.He could be faulted for throwing two interceptions a week ago against Michigan State, although he still managed to lead Wisconsin on two fourth-quarter touchdown drives to tie that contest.Against Ohio State, Wilson provided exactly the kind of leadership and heady play the Badgers needed. He completed 20 of 32 passes for 253 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. He also coolly led Wisconsin once again on two fourth-quarter scoring drives when his team absolutely needed them. Wilson wont win the Heisman Trophy this year because his team already has two losses, but his numbers are certainly Heisman worthy. This season, he has completed 129 of 182 passes (70.8 percent) for 2,033 yards with 19 touchdowns and three interceptions.Not too shabby.4. Jared Abbrederis deserves a scholarship. Abbrederis story is known around the state of Wisconsin, but its worth noting again that he just might be one of the most valuable non-scholarship players in the country.The sophomore walk-on did not receive a scholarship because of Russell Wilsons addition to the team in June. Badgers coach Bret Bielema had one scholarship remaining after Wilson joined, but he did not want to decide between two players, one of which was Abbrederis.Aside from Wilson, nobody played a better game offensively on Saturday for the Badgers than Abbrederis.Most people have come to realize Abbrederis prowess as a punt returner He entered the game leading the country in punt return average at 22.3 yards per attempt. But his ability as a wide receiver should not go unnoticed.On Saturday, it was Abbrederis who came up with the two biggest catches of the game, allowing Wisconsin to come all the way back from a 26-14 deficit. First, he hauled in a 17-yard touchdown pass from Wilson that trimmed the deficit to 26-21 at the 3:48 mark of the fourth quarter. Then, he got behind the secondary down the right sideline and made a 49-yard touchdown catch to give the Badgers the lead with 1:18 remaining.For the game, Abbrederis caught six passes for 113 yards, and he certainly appears close to usurping Nick Toon as Wisconsins No. 1 wide receiver.This season, Abbrederis has 36 catches for a team-best 595 yards and four touchdowns. Hell be receiving a scholarship in January when more become available after the semester, and nobody has earned one more than him.5. The Badgers need to learn how to block on punts. A week ago, a blocked punt that resulted in a touchdown significantly contributed to Wisconsin losing its game against Michigan.Youd think that might an area the Badgers would want to clean up.But for the second straight game, Badgers punter Brad Nortman had his punt blocked, and Ohio State recovered at the 1-yard line. Three plays later, Jordan Hall punched in a rushing touchdown, giving Ohio State a 17-7 lead in the third quarter.The block didnt appear to be Nortmans fault at all. In fact, he barely had time to kick the ball before the Buckeyes Ryan Shazier snuck cleanly through for the block.Wisconsin was fortunate to recover a fumble on an Ohio State punt return later in the game that led to a Badgers touchdown. But the blocked punt, in a game lost by four points, demonstrated that all it takes is one major gaffe in special teams to cost a team a victory.
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