Iowa's Loss Opens Up Possibilities for Wisconsin in Big Ten

Sam OlesonCorrespondent INovember 8, 2009

The buzz around the University of Wisconsin campus is noticeably louder and more inspired after the Badgers' road win against Indiana yesterday.

Not that Wisconsin looked particularly impressive against a mediocre Hoosier team that hung around the whole game, even though the Badgers probably should have put them away by halftime.

Defensive inconsistency (no surprise there) and the fact that John Clay hardly played in the second half due to a minor injury both played a significant role in why Wisconsin won by only three points (31-28) instead of three touchdowns.

So yes, any road win in the Big Ten is something to be proud of. But no, students aren't that excited by the Badgers' performance.

What Wisconsin students are excited about is another outcome in the Big Ten; Iowa's loss to Northwestern.

After scraping by and overcoming second-half deficits in most of their wins, including their win over Wisconsin, the Hawkeyes' luck finally caught up with them.

Iowa's loss ends its dreams of an undefeated season and a possible national championship berth. Furthermore, it gives Wisconsin fans hope in the Big Ten race and a possible BCS bowl.

Now, winning a share of the Big Ten is still a long shot.

Iowa is still firmly in control of its own destiny in terms of a Rose Bowl invitation, but the loss does open up possibilities for Wisconsin.

Iowa still has to play Ohio State, and if the Hawkeyes lose to OSU, it's possible there could be four two-loss teams in the Big Ten.

If Ohio State beats Iowa, Wisconsin would then have to hope for a Michigan win against the Bucks (since OSU has only one conference loss) if it wanted a piece of the Big Ten title and a shot at the Rose Bowl.

That, or they could hope for an Iowa win against Ohio State and a loss in their season finale against Minnesota.

Either way, the Badgers need a lot of help if they want a share of the Big Ten.

However, a BCS at-large bid is not out of the question for the Badgers.

In this regard, the Iowa-Ohio State game next weekend means nothing for Wisconsin.

That battle would essentially be an elimination game for the Bucks and the Hawks in the fight for a BCS spot.

If Iowa loses, they would surely be out of the picture for a BCS bowl with two late-season losses. If Ohio State loses, they would have three losses and would be out of it as well.

Penn State may already be on the outskirts because of its late-season loss to the Buckeyes yesterday.

Wisconsin, on the other hand, lost to Iowa three weeks ago and could run the table the rest of the season.

As they are currently ranked No. 21 in the BCS rankings, it's definitely a possibility they could be invited as an at-large bid (Fiesta Bowl?) since it's likely that either Ohio State or Iowa will win the Big Ten and would be invited to the Rose Bowl.

This makes next weekend's game against Michigan, Wisconsin's last home game of the year, that much more important.

Because it is the Badgers last hurrah, students were bound to be pumped up for this game, but these possibilities will amplify that feeling even more.

Oh, and there's also the fact that, simply put, we don't like the Wolverines. Not one bit.

Not only did Michigan initiate Wisconsin's downward spiral last year after it came back to beat the Badgers in Ann Arbor, but it just seems like most schools in the Big Ten don't like the Wolverines.

I'm not sure if it's their storied success or just a perceived feeling of arrogance, but other than Minnesota, Michigan may be the least-liked Big Ten team among Wisconsin students.

Whatever the case, Saturday's game is huge for Wisconsin.

Wisconsin is hot, while the Wolverines are coming off a home loss to Purdue and look like last year's 3-9 squad instead of the team that was ranked early this season.

After the Homecoming loss to Iowa, there is no way Badgers fans thought this game against Michigan would mean much.

If things go right, this and the two games after it, will mean everything.



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