Wisconsin Football: Grading the Badgers' Loss vs. Ohio State

Sean LansingContributor IOctober 30, 2011

Wisconsin Football: Grading the Badgers' Loss vs. Ohio State

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    It's hard to imagine the last two weeks going any worse for Bret Bielema and the Badgers. 

    First, they see their dream season ruined on a last-ditch Hail Mary and a questionable call.

    Then, they see their Rose Bowl hopes dashed by...a last-ditch Hail Mary. 

    Yes, Saturday night was deja vu all over again for a team that two weeks ago was in the thick of the national title race with a Heisman front-runner lining up under center.

    Click through the slideshow to see how things went wrong for the Badgers again this weekend.

Quarterbacks: A-

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    Russell Wilson again missed a couple of throws that an elite quarterback needs to make in big games, and he was responsible for yet another intentional grounding call deep in Wisconsin territory. 

    Still, Wilson was solid overall (253 yards passing, three touchdowns), and the game wouldn't even have been close without him and the late-game touchdown drives he engineered. 

Running Backs: C

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    Wisconsin's running game was anemic against the Buckeyes, and if it wasn't for a surprise draw play that went for a big gain late in the game, Saturday would have gone down as one of the worst statistical performances on the ground for Wisconsin in recent memory. 

    Give Montee Ball credit for hauling in a nice touchdown grab and grinding it out all game long, but overall he and a nonexistent James White had to be better.

Wide Receivers: C+

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    Jared Abbrederis had an excellent game (six catches for 113 yards and two touchdowns), but No. 1 receiver Nick Toon was mostly invisible for the second week in a row. 

    The Badgers' lack of depth at receiver didn't matter much when they were steamrolling inferior opponents, but it has killed them against two good teams. 

Offensive Line: D

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    Can anybody remember the last time the Badgers were continually smacked and beaten up front? 

    Wisconsin barely had 10 rushing yards at the half, and there were no holes for Montee Ball inside or outside at any point in the game. 

    The pass protection wasn't much better, consistently allowing pressure that forced Russell Wilson to run for his life, make bad throws or heave the ball out of bounds.

Defensive Line: C

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    The Badgers front four generated a fair amount of pressure against the Buckeyes, but Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller always made them miss. 

    In the run game, Ohio State dominated, piling up 268 on the ground.

Linebackers: C

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    Mike Taylor had a career game by registering 22 tackles, and Chris Borland was solid with 13 stops, but the anchors of the Badgers' defense missed too many tackles—especially when it counted. 

    Over-pursuit and missed assignments doomed the Wisconsin defense on some of Braxton Miller and Boom Herron's biggest plays.

Secondary: F

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    For the second week in a row, the Badgers lost the game on a desperation heave into the end zone late in the fourth quarter. 

    Wisconsin's secondary got caught watching Braxton Miller run around on the deciding touchdown, allowing Ohio State wide receiver Devin Smith to run free behind them for an easy six.


Special Teams: F

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    It's hard to imagine why the Badgers would continue to employ a punt coverage that allows defenders to run free to the kicker, but it happened again Saturday. 

    Ohio State's Ryan Shazier came in virtually untouched, leading to another blocked punt and another game-changing score against Wisconsin. 

Coaching: F

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    The Badgers were flat, failed to clean up their special team's mistakes and blew a coverage that resulted in another heartbreaking Hail Mary loss. 

    If Wisconsin has any hope of salvaging their season and getting to double-digit wins, the coaching staff needs to fix things in a hurry. 

Intangibles: F

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    In just two weeks, the Badgers went from playing for a spot in New Orleans to fighting for a chance at a meaningful January bowl game. 

    The wheels have completely come off in Madison, and what was billed as a dream season not long ago has quickly devolved into a nightmare.