Wisconsin at Ohio State: Division Is Still Badgers' for the Taking

Sean LansingContributor IOctober 29, 2011

EAST LANSING, MI - OCTOBER 22:  James White #20 of the Wisconsin Badgers looks on in the second quarter of the game against the Michigan State Spartans at Spartan Stadium on October 22, 2011 in East Lansing, Michigan. The Spartans defeated the Badgers 37-31 on the final play of the game.  (Photo by Mark Cunningham/Getty Images)
Mark Cunningham/Getty Images

Wisconsin’s national title hopes might have been ruined last weekend in East Lansing, but it’s still Rose Bowl or bust in Madison.

The Badgers don’t face another ranked opponent until their last game of the season against Penn State, and they've already played the Big Ten’s best—defeating Nebraska and falling to Michigan State.

With a 6-1 record and a very favorable schedule the rest of the way, Wisconsin should have no problem securing a rematch against either the Huskers or the Spartans for the Big Ten Championship and a berth in the Rose Bowl.

Before they get there, however, the Badgers will have to bounce back in a big way this evening against a well-rested Ohio State team coming off its bye week.

Yes, Bret Bielema’s team is better on paper, but the Buckeyes are still the Buckeyes and nobody has to be reminded that Wisconsin is just one week removed from one of the most heartbreaking losses in college football history.

Add in the fact that the game is under the lights in Columbus in front of a national TV audience, and things could get tricky for the Badgers.

Wisconsin knows they are good, and they also know they let a once in a lifetime opportunity slip through their hands—or bounce off their chest—against the Spartans.

Given the circumstances and the difficulty of playing back-to-back night games on the road in Big Ten, nobody would be surprised if the Badgers folded.

This game might be close early, but you have to believe that Russell Wilson and the veteran-laden Badgers will respond well to last week’s crushing defeat and take their frustrations out on the Buckeyes.

There’s no shame in playing in the Rose Bowl, and this team knows it has the talent and the schedule to get there.

Every player on the Wisconsin roster also knows that finishing the balance of the season unbeaten could very well mean another shot at Michigan State, providing Bret Bielema with all the motivational material he needs to keep his team focused the rest of the way.