Wisconsin Football: Montee Ball's Fumble a Microcosm of Badgers' Season

Ian Berg@@ShugJordanPkwyCorrespondent INovember 17, 2012

Nov 17, 2012; Madison, WI, USA;  Wisconsin Badgers running back Montee Ball (28) fumbles the football while trying to dive for a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Camp Randall Stadium.  Ohio State defeated Wisconsin 21-14 in overtime.  Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE

The Wisconsin Badgers had Big Ten and national title hopes heading into the 2012 season. Four losses later, the chances at a title are still alive—thanks to the Ohio State Buckeyes carrying a postseason ban—but this team is nowhere near last season’s Rose Bowl form. 

The Badgers were expected to ride the talents of Montee Ball to success, but even the preseason Heisman watch-lister is having issues reaching expectations this year. His fumble against Ohio State in the fourth quarter completed the folly-filled season for the Badgers and Ball. 

The Bret Bielema-led Badgers have suffered four close losses by a total of 16 points this year. Two of those games were three-point losses in overtime. 

This season started off on the wrong foot, and the Badgers have struggled to get this year under control.

The miscues continued to strike against Ohio State Saturday when the Badgers were unable to get a win against the Buckeyes to close the season. 

In true fate-like fashion, the Badgers were driving the ball into the end zone with a yard left to gain before Wisconsin could tie the game against Ohio State 14-14 in the fourth quarter. In an effort to leap into the end zone for the score, Montee Ball extended the football toward the goal line only to have it knocked loose by the Ohio State defense. 

The ball was recovered by Ohio State, forcing the Badgers to score the game-tying touchdown with only eight seconds left in regulation. The Buckeyes eventually scored a touchdown in overtime and held the Badgers to no score. 

If not for the Ball fumble early in the fourth, the Badgers could have won this football game with a last-minute scoring drive. Instead, that scoring drive tied the game and forced overtime in the game. 

This game took the route that this 2012 season has taken for the Badgers. There have been a number of small miscues that have led to the four losses for Wisconsin, and no amount of effort could have changed the outcome of any game for this team this season.

There is still a shot at a Big Ten title that remains with a shot at a BCS bowl for this Badgers team waiting with a victory. While their record may not indicate a team that would perform well, this team would be one of the best squads to come out of the Big Ten this season.

Nebraska appears to be the challenger for Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game. The Cornhuskers defeated the Badgers earlier this season in a tight 30-27 contest. 

The Badgers will be confident heading into the game, but after Ball’s fumble it doesn’t look to be Wisconsin’s year.