MADISON — The Wisconsin Badgers may control their own destiny in the Big Ten after Nebraska’s 62-3 loss against Ohio State this past weekend, but if you ask the players, they are approaching this final stretch of college football as they have all season—with physicality and without complacency.
That’s part of November football, according to Wisconsin safety Leo Musso.
“As you guys know, November is probably the hardest month for a lot of sports teams,” he said. “That’s when a lot of teams prove themselves more than anything because bodies start to hurt, mentally school weighs on everybody a little bit. Really we’ve got to focus on this week and getting through November more than anything else.”
As the 7-2 Badgers sit at 1st in the Big Ten West, looking only to this week’s game is a challenge in itself. Though championship hopes are high for Wisconsin fans, the players are strictly looking at finishing the season strong. They face Illinois at home in the Wisconsin homecoming game, Purdue on the road and end their season at home against rival Minnesota.
After a stretch of Michigan, Ohio and Nebraska, the last three games seem easy for the Badgers. But that type of complacency is something head coach Paul Chryst is steering away from.
“Our coach this past week talked to us about complacency and things like that. That’s the one thing we don’t want to get caught up in,” wide receiver Jazz Peavy said. “To say that we’ve got an easy way to the Big Ten Championship, that is not what’s really on our mind. We’ve still got to finish up this season.”
Tight end Troy Fumagalli echoed similar sentiments. “I think what this group has done a great job of every week is not being complacent, coming out and finding new things to improve on and getting better.” Fumagalli specifically referenced improvements in the run game this past weekend against Northwestern.
Musso said complacency would ultimately hurt the Badgers because lower-ranked teams are driven by opponent’s complacency.
“If you overlook a team in this league, then you can get beat especially now. A lot of teams are eager to prove what they’ve got too. You’ve really got to be on your game each and every week,” he said.
He did admit to sticking with the old cliché in these last three games would be necessary. “Just approach it week-by-week.”
Wisconsin plays Illinois this weekend at home in their homecoming football game. Kickoff is at 2:30 p.m. at Camp Randall Stadium.