What can possibly be said after a performance like this? What is surprising is how quickly it got out of hand. With just under 6 minutes remaining in the first half, IU had the ball in Wisconsin territory trailing 17-10. Given the way Wisconsin had been running the ball, I disagreed with the decision to attempt a 52-yard field goal, and thought the game was essentially over when Wisconsin pulled ahead 24-10, but it was not foreseeable at that point that the Badgers would score another 59 points. Wisconsin's offense had the ball 12 times, and scored Every. Single. Time. The Badgers scored 10 touchdowns and two field goals on offense, and added a pick six, and there it is. As has happened way too many times in the Lynch era, IU allowed a loss to turn into a total humiliation.
The raw numbers, other than the sheer number of points, are ugly. Wisconsin averaged 8.8 yards per offensive play despite throwing the ball only 21 times. They averaged 7.2 yards per rush.
IU's offense struggled, as would be expected, and Ben Chappell missed most of the game with a hip injury. Dusty Kiel struggled in relief, completing only 1 of 7 passes and throwing another INT for a touchdown. Edward Wright-Baker was a bit better, completing 2-3 for 64 yards and a TD. Nick Turner broke the 100 yard barrier for the first time in his career, but 67 of those yards came on one first quarter run, which set up IU's only meaningful touchdown of the day. The humiliation was complete, and will get worse if Chappell isn't ready to go next week.
I suppose I need to address the "running up the score" issue. It's a horrible thing to address from the perspective of the losing team, because it comes across as whining. IU is a Big Ten team and shouldn't be begging for mercy from another Big Ten team. Ultimately, it's up to the defense to get a stop. Still, it's hard for me to believe that there is anything other than humiliation in mind when a coach makes the decision, as Bret Bielema did, to put the ball in the air with under 8 minutes remaining in the game while leading by 56 points. Bucky's Fifth Quarter has this to say:
But even if some criticize the Badgers for running up the score, we all knew it was something they had to do to maintain their lead over Ohio State in the BCS standings. This is the system the NCAA has created, so these are the results they are sometimes going to get -- although 83 points might be a little bit of a stretch.
I'm not sure where to start with this one. First, the BCS is something originally created by the six major conferences and Notre Dame. It's not a creature of the NCAA. Second, the BCS computer ratings do not take into account the margin of victory. As far as the BCS computers are concerned, there is no difference between a one point win and a 63 point win. The only way that margin of error enters the BCS standards is if the voters in the human polls take it into account. It seems unlikely to me, given Wisconsin's convincing win over the Buckeyes, that the voters ever would move Wisconsin below Ohio State as long as the two teams have the same record. Even if the voters were inclined to make such a move, it's unlikely that the voters would have been insufficiently impressed with a 69-13 or 69-20 win. If anything, the additional points served to attract more attention to Bielema, again, than to his team's impressive performance. Based on his decision a few weeks ago to rub Tim Brewster's nose in it by going for two late in an out-of-hand game, this is how Bielema rolls. And that's fine. I'll take Wisconsin's jerk over IU's nice guy any day. But it's not something that can be defended on the basis of necessity. But again, to the victor go the spoils. Hopefully we will get the chance to return the favor someday.