Melvin Gordon runs against Northwestern in last weekend’s game. (AP Photo)
It has been nearly three years since the Wisconsin football team won a road game against a ranked opponent.
On Oct. 23, 2010, Wisconsin defeated Iowa, 31-30, in Iowa City. However, it’s worth noting that the Badgers were ranked No. 10 at the time, and the Hawkeyes were ranked No. 13.
If you really want to get nostalgic, the last time Wisconsin went on the road and defeated a team that was ranked higher than it was, was Oct. 15, 2005, a 38-34 victory over Minnesota. Yes, the Gophers have appeared in the AP poll in the last century. That was a game best known for a blocked punt returned for a touchdown in the final minute, and to date the most recent Paul Bunyan’s Axe matchup that didn’t turn into a lopsided blowout.
After a 35-6 drubbing of No. 19 Northwestern last Saturday, fans should be asking why Wisconsin can’t perform like that on the road against ranked opponents. It’s just another example of little mistakes that have plagued the team in recent years.
While UW has gone into neutral site environments and pulled off upsets, most notably the manhandling of No. 14 Nebraska in last year’s Big Ten championship game, recent history shows that a true road contest against the nation’s elite will almost certainly end in a loss.
Since the 2010 season, Wisconsin is 1-4 against ranked opponents on the road. Meanwhile, the Badgers are 4-0 against ranked opponents at Camp Randall.
Such disparity needs to be shored up. While the impeccable home record is obviously something to strive for, the road record is pitiful for a team trying to join the elite.
The Badgers probably won’t face another ranked opponent at all this year until the bowl game. Their remaining schedule is weak and full of games that they should win easily.
Wisconsin should finish 10-2, which would put them in the running for an at-large BCS bid. While that game on the national stage wouldn’t be a true road contest, it would be an opportunity for the Badgers to get a signature win away from Madison.