Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, December 21, 2012

Wisconsin isn?t apologizing for being the first five-loss team ever in the Rose Bowl. The Badgers will proudly punch their third ticket in a row to Pasadena, thanks largely to a defense that played well all season.

This team?s grit in the face of adversity also is admirably, as the offensive line coach was canned two games into the season; three quarterbacks have started games; and now, head coach Bret Bielema has bolted.

Wisconsin 2012
Date Opponent Result / Time
9/1 vs. Northern Iowa 26 – 21
9/8 at Oregon State 7 – 10
9/15 vs. Utah State 16 – 14
9/22 vs. UTEP 37 – 26
9/29 at 22 Nebraska 27 – 30
10/6 vs. Illinois 31 – 14
10/13 at Purdue 38 – 14
10/20 vs. Minnesota 38 – 13
10/27 vs. Michigan State 13 – 16
11/10 at Indiana 62 – 14
11/17 vs. 6 Ohio State 14 – 21
11/24 at Penn State 21 – 24
12/1 vs. 14 Nebraska 70 – 31
1/1 at 8 Stanford 5:00 ET

Record: 8-5 overall; 4-4 Big Ten

Bowl: Rose Bowl vs. Stanford

High point: Wisconsin rolled into Indianapolis for the Big Ten title game having lost three of four games. No matter. The Badgers thrashed 10-win Nebraska, 70-31, behind an avalanche of 640 yards (539 yards rushing). It was a stunning display for a team many said didn?t deserve to be there after finishing third in the Leaders Division but still advanced because Ohio State and Penn State were on probation.

Low point: Losing overtime games to Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State in the second half of the season hurt. But the low point was blowing a 17-point lead at Nebraska on Sept. 29 in the Badgers' Big Ten opener, falling 39-27. But, as we know, Wisconsin made up for that lapse in Lincoln in the Big Ten title game.

Offensive MVP: RB Montee Ball. It was hard to follow his sensational 2011 Heisman runner-up season, but Ball came close-and all while overcoming a concussion and spotty play by his offensive line early on. Ball is second in the Big Ten in rushing (133.1 ypg) and set the NCAA record for career touchdowns with 82. And he won the Doak Walker Award as the nation?s top running back.

Defensive MVP: LB Chris Borland. Running mate Mike Taylor had more tackles, but Borland was the guy who caused more havoc. The senior redshirt junior finished with 51 solo tackles and 44 assists, playing with unrivaled passion and energy for a defense that ranked No. 3 overall in the Big Ten (320.9 ypg).

About Tom Dienhart senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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