Wisconsin stumbles into Big Ten championship game

Associated Press Modified: November 18, 2012 at 1:31 pm •  Published: November 18, 2012
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MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin isn't about to apologize.

Yes, the Badgers (7-4, 4-3) are stumbling into the Big Ten title game after a 21-14 overtime loss to No. 4 Ohio State on Saturday. Currently third in the Leaders Division, they've basically been gifted a shot at playing for the Rose Bowl because the Buckeyes and Penn State, the two teams ahead of them, are ineligible for the postseason because of NCAA violations.

But it's not as if that's their doing.

"We don't control that," quarterback Curt Phillips said. "We just have to make the most of this opportunity."

Make no mistake, the Badgers badly wanted to beat Ohio State (11-0, 7-0) to prove they're worthy of being in the Big Ten title game. Get a little payback from last year, too, when a struggling Buckeyes squad stunned the Badgers on a desperation heave in the closing seconds.

They came close, forcing overtime when Phillips found Jacob Pederson for a 5-yard score with eight seconds left in regulation. But Carlos Hyde gave the Buckeyes a quick lead, and Wisconsin could find nothing on offense in the extra period.

It was their second straight loss in overtime at Camp Randall, following a 16-13 loss to Michigan State last month. The Badgers' four losses this season have been by a total of 16 points.

"It hurts to do everything you can in your power and still fall short," Montee Ball said. "And it's happened twice to us, back to back at home. It's not a good feeling."

The lone bright spot for the Badgers was that Ball scored his 78th touchdown in the second quarter, tying the major college career record set by Travis Prentice of Miami (Ohio) in 1999. Ball had a chance to claim the record for himself, but he fumbled at the goal line with less than three minutes left in regulation.

Ball leaped over a scrum with the ball held in front of him, and Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier punched it loose.

"It's a teaching moment for everybody, players and coaches," coach Bret Bielema said. "I had this flash in my mind when we were running up to the line for that play, 'Don't jump. Don't jump.' Because I knew (Ball) was doing anything he could to get in the end zone. And I can't discredit him for the effort."

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