Badgers always overrated, underrated
Heading into last year's Rose Bowl season, that Badgers were ranked 12. The week they played the Rose Bowl, they were 4/5. They ended up 7/8 after losing the Rose Bowl and ending the season 11-2.
Heading into 2009, the Badgers were unranked, but finished the season ranked No. 16 after going 10-3
Goiing into 2008, the Badgers were ranked 13, but finished the season unranked after going 7-6.
Heading into 2007 they were ranked No. 7 and finished 21/24 after going 9-4.
The Badgers were unranked going into the 2006 season, but finished 7/5 after going 12-1. Despite being a one-loss team, they played in the Capital One Bowl because Michigan went to the Rose Bowl and Ohio State was in the National Championship game and the BCS doesn't allow more than 2 teams from any conference into their bowls.
You obviously know how this season has gone...
Why is it that the Badgers can never play to expectations?
Is the pressure too much for them? Is it fair to look at head coach Bret Bielema to explain this? Do they thrive on the underdog tag?
Why is it that when they're expected to do well they can't seem to handle the pressure and end up losing games they shouldn't have any trouble with?
2008's team is sort of legendary in recent history as being a team who far under-acheived their ability and expectations. They lost four in a row to Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State and Iowa and then lost again later in the season to Michigan State. They went 3-5 in the Big Ten that year.
This season's team was in discussion for the National Championship game and QB Russell Wilson was a Heisman Trophy candidate. Two losses later, they're still eligible to make it to the Big Ten Championship game, but they're going to need help.
Maybe its because the Badgers are still new to this concept of being consistently relevant on a national stage. Maybe they play better when they have a chip on their shoulder.
I can't imagine there's any quantifiable stat that will tell you why the team is so damn inconsistent and incapable of living up to the expectations placed on them.
Is it a little sister complex? Have the years of being third, fourth or fifth fiddle in the Big Ten left them with an inability to handle the spotlight and a complex of inferiority that makes them push harder when they're labeled an underdog?
Whatever it is, Bielema has his work cut out figuring out how to deal with it.
The Badgers had a chance to do something the football program has never done and they completely blew it against teams that they should have been able to beat. The addition of an elite quarterback to an already strong team gave the Badgers a unique chance and chemistry they haven't had in a long time. Wisconsin is not known for strong quarterbacks or impressive passing campaigns. The ability to add that to their renowned running game should have meant amazing things for this team.
And the team couldn't handle the pressure.