Losing stings, but losing the way the Wisconsin Badgers did on Saturday night has a way of lingering around if you let it. However, if there is one team in college football that has experience in dealing with adversity it is Wisconsin.
Whether it has been dealing with two last minute Hail Mary losses or being the reason for the new rule that you need to have three seconds left on the game clock to spike the football, there is little question Wisconsin has experienced a lot of craziness in the past three years.
Some fans may remember that fateful 2012 Rose Bowl against Oregon, but for the veterans in the Badger locker room the only part of that memory that stuck with them on Saturday night was the feeling of losing.
"Not at all, totally different," said senior safety Dez Southward when asked about this loss reminding him of the Oregon loss.
Southward did acknowledge that the end result of a loss reminded him a lot of the Oregon game, but that was it. The feeling was very different indeed.
For Southward and some of the other seniors, it was important to deal with the loss quickly and move on to the Big Ten season ahead.
"This is the worst loss I've ever been a part of, said senior linebacker Chris Borland. "We played well enough to win, we put ourselves in a position to win and it was taken from us. It was miserable."
However miserable the feeling is, Borland and the other seniors on this team were saying all the right things following the loss and it was clear they knew what was at stake if they allowed those feelings to fester.
"I think it's devastating and I think guys will take it hard," said Borland. "But, dwelling on this game or that play won't help us beat Purdue."
That is but a sampling of the mood in the Badger media room following the loss in Tempe. And if history tells us anything about the group of young adults in the Wisconsin locker room, it's that they respond well in the face of adversity.
Gary Andersen and the rest of the coaching staff can do all they want to refocus the players after a loss like that, but it is ultimately on guys like Borland, James White and Jared Abbrederis—the ones around for almost all the crazy things that happened in the past three years—to make that transition.
In 2011 the Badgers faced back-to-back losses in Hail Mary fashion, yet responded by going out and winning the first ever Big Ten Championship game, only to suffer the heartbreaking loss to Oregon in the Rose Bowl—their second straight close loss in the "Granddaddy of Them All."
Wisconsin suffered brutally close losses to Ohio State and Penn State late in the 2012 season and responded to that adversity with a blowout for the ages over a heavily favored Nebraska team for their second Big Ten Championship Game victory in as many years and third straight conference title overall.
The Badgers hung close with Stanford this past January in the Rose Bowl, only to come up just short once again and instead of dwelling on that loss in the offseason, they embraced change.
Change came in the form of a new head coach and his systems, and it paid off to the tune of 12 quarters of football in a row without an opponent scoring on the Badger D—from the Rose Bowl to the second quarter of the ASU game this past Saturday night.
At the end of the day though, the Wisconsin season could likely hinge on what happens Saturday against Purdue in the Big Ten opener for both teams. Win, and all that Wisconsin wants is still there for the taking; lose, and the season could be in danger of spiraling downhill quickly, given games against Ohio State and Northwestern are right on the horizon as well.
If the words on Saturday night match the history of how Wisconsin has responded to adversity like this in the past, it could be a long and painful day for the Boilermakers at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday.
*Andy Coppens is the lead Big Ten writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow Andy on Twitter for more discussion of all things Big Ten.
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