Agony of defeat

By Jordan Murray

Sports Editor

The passionate sports fan typically deals with a wide array of emotions throughout a sports season and throughout their lives in fandom. We see winning streaks, we see los­ing streaks, and we see everything in between. Momentum ebbs and flows from season to season, and ex­pectations can change in the time it takes for a knee to give out.

Rarely, however, has the agony of defeat hit home as harshly as it did for Wisconsin Badger fans on the evening of Oct. 22. This year’s edition of the Wisconsin Badger football team dismantled its first six opponents with the ease of a knife cutting through warm butter. Even Nebraska, a team that brought a long and storied history of winning with it in its move to the Big Ten Conference, was steamrolled 48-17. Featuring a dominant running game and, finally, a versatile, playmaking quarterback in Russell Wilson, Wis­consin looked like it was ready to fi­nally break through and make a run at a national championship game.

The Badgers traveled to East Lan­sing to face the Michigan State Spar­tans, a program that’s been a thorn in the Badgers’ side in seemingly every season that the Badgers have shown great promise.

Wisconsin lost. And it’s not just that they lost, it’s how it happened. Wisconsin struggled throughout the game, but still found itself in a posi­tion to send the game to overtime. Then the impossible happened. With time running out, Michigan State senior quarterback Kirk Cousins threw the football 50 yards through the night air. Thanks to a friendly carom, the ball fell into a Spartan receiver’s arms at the one yard line. After a struggle between players on both teams near the goal line, the officials ruled no touchdown and that the game would go to overtime. But the officials reviewed the replay and ruled that the play was, in fact, a touchdown, giving the Spartans a 37-31 victory that set off bedlam in East Lansing and dropped an anvil on the national title hopes of Wis­consin fans.

Some have blamed coaching and clock management for the Badgers’ loss. The truth is, the Badgers didn’t play up to their potential and Michi­gan State took advantage of it. And they got lucky. Really lucky. Even the most ardent Spartan fan would admit that. But they had that op­portunity thanks to Badger miscues, and that’s what matters.

Great teams win games when they don’t have their A game. Sometimes that means getting a lucky bounce, which is exactly what didn’t happen for the Badgers. In sports, the differ­ence in an all-time great season and one that comes up short is some­times just that lucky bounce.

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