Line up, naysayers: Badgers off to Rose Bowl

Richard Mackson-US PRESSWIRE

Line up, naysayers: Badgers off to Rose Bowl

INDIANAPOLIS – Wisconsin spent the better part of the last month hearing about how it didn’t deserve to be in the 2012 Big Ten Football Championship Game. Now, for the next month, it will hear that it has no business playing in the Rose Bowl, the program’s third consecutive Grandaddy of Them All.

That’s just fine by these Badgers, the Rose Bowl’s first five-loss team.

“I don’t care,” Dezmen Southward said. “I really don’t care.”

And they shouldn’t. Not after Saturday night’s absolutely dominating 70-31 win over previously streaking No. 14 Nebraska.

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“I don’t think we need to say anything,” Chris Borland said. “Our performance tonight speaks volumes.”

It really did. Consider the following:

  • Wisconsin boasted two 200-yard rushers for the first time in program history.
  • Wisconsin finished with 539 rushing yards, the fourth-highest total in school history.
  • Wisconsin tied a conference championship game scoring record, matching Texas’ 70 points in the 2005 Big 12 title game.

The already eye-popping figures are all the more impressive because they came against a Nebraska team that had won six straight and limited the Badgers to 56 rushing yards earlier this season.

Yes, 56 yards. On this night, the Badgers had three scoring scampers of at least 56 yards, including Melvin Gordon’s 56-yard run that marked the game’s first points.

As impressive as Saturday night’s demolition was, it doesn’t figure to soften the naysayers’ stance. After all, this still is a five-loss team that only boasts two wins over teams currently over .500 (Utah State, 10-2; Nebraska 10-3), this latest one the lone versus a BCS team.

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“We can’t listen to the critics,” said Southward, who notched 10 tackles. “I mean, if we didn’t belong here, the result would have been different.”

The result was nothing short of stunning. Few predicted Wisconsin to win, and even fewer did so in an absolute rout.

But now, despite the handful of losses (by a total of 19 points), the three overtime defeats, the third-place finish in the Leaders Division, Wisconsin is 60 minutes away from achieving the goal it sets every offseason.

“I’d much rather be 8-5 and win the Rose Bowl than be 11-2 and lose it,” Southward said.

Right on. Southward and the Badgers get that chance Jan. 1, 2013, when they battle Pac-12 champ Stanford.

About Brent Yarina web editor Brent Yarina covers football and men’s basketball for He writes the popular uniform feature “Clothes Call,” which also focuses on the latest cosmetic changes across Big Ten arenas and stadiums. Read all of his work here. You can subscribe to Yarina’s RSS feed and follow him on Twitter @BTNBrentYarina.

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