Originally posted on The Sports Bank  |  Last updated 9/9/12

A shot at the National Championship Game is off the table, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the Wisconsin Badgers season is over.

Yes, they were outplayed in every facet of the game in a 10-7 loss to the Oregon State Beavers.

Bad play on the road is nothing new for the Badgers. Even Russell Wilson couldn’t save them from going 2-2 in true road games last season, including a game where they struggled to beat an Illinois team clearly not on the same level as them.

It might sound counter-intuitive, but there’s still a lot to like about this Badgers team.
First off, the Badgers loss doesn’t change the fact that Ohio State and Penn State have been banned from postseason play. Both Indiana and Illinois are dealing with significant injuries to their best players and Purdue is well, still Purdue. If you think Wisconsin has no shot at making it to the Big Ten Championship, you’re being overly pessimistic.

They still have the best backfield in the Big Ten with Montee Ball and James White. It’s probably for the best if Ball’s Heisman campaign dies off soon, the Badgers have always performed better under the radar.

The offensive line play can’t get any worse. Considering they have the size and talent in place, you would have to think it’s a matter of experience and learning to play together. With an emphasis in practice, expect the offensive line to get better as the season goes on.

Defensively, the Badgers are sticking to the same old mantra, bend-but-don’t-break, as they’ve done for the last three or four years. Losing safety Shelton Johnson to a broken arm hurts, but this unit will keep the opponent close, good enough when the offense improves.

We’ve now seen good Danny O’Brien and downright horrible O’Brien. As expected, the team needs O’Brien to be a game manager, he’s not a playmaker like Russell was. With that said, O’Brien will also get better, not many teams get worse and worse as a college football season goes on. Moreover, it could be a lot worse, he didn’t throw four or five interceptions or anything like that.

Lastly, the Badgers play-calling needs to get better if they are to be successful going forward. In the mess against Oregon State, there wasn’t much of an evident game-plan. If offensive coordinator Matt Canada doesn’t want to be run out of town, he needs to get back to Wisconsin football and making sure the run game is established and the number one priority. That was not the case against the Beavers as the Badgers ran 38 passing plays compared to only 23 of the rushing variety.

I think it’s far fetched to think Bret Bielema won’t turn this team around and help them get back on track to a Big Ten Championship. In his impressive career at Wisconsin, he’s done nothing but win and one loss shouldn’t change that notion just yet.

What do you think, is the Badgers making it to the Big Ten Championship realistic? Let me know by commenting below.

Nick Grays is a senior writer at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers and Green Bay Packers. He also enjoys to share Fantasy Advice and pretend to be a Golf expert from time-to-time. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best.

Pictures courtesy of Wisconsin Football official Facebook page.


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