INDIANAPOLIS — The 10-3 Wisconsin Badgers are a team that puts everything on the line in every single game and moves past any blunders with the mentality that it is always on to the next week.
With the idea of “next week” being done for the 2016 season, the Badgers still look to their 38-31 loss against the Penn State Nittany Lions as a source of learning and improvement, although painful, in order to improve their overall performance.
Head coach Paul Chryst stressed to the media in his postgame interview that the team did not have to turn the page right away. They could allow the loss to simmer just a little bit before moving on.
But when asked if the team was going to bounce back, his answer was clear. Absolutely.
With bowl games still several weeks away, the Badgers will have some time to let things cool down after the tough loss in Indianapolis. Cornerback Sojourn Shelton said with time it will be less painful, but in the meantime he was just going to do the things he normally does: watch TV on Sunday, play some video games and hopefully by Monday or Tuesday start to reflect on the game.
“At some point I’m going to look at it as an experience and learning lesson,” Shelton said.
Outside linebacker T.J. Watt said this came at a perfect time to step away for a bit.
“We’re going to get a little time away from football,” Watt said. “It’s been a long season and guys are a little battered up right about now, just for the mind too to step away is really nice.”
For seniors like outside linebacker Vince Biegel, this game held more meaning than even just a championship game. It is what he came to Wisconsin to do, and it is what he returned to do in his final season as a Badger.
“You train all the blood, sweat and tears in the offseason for this,” Biegel said. “As a competitor, as a football player what’s the best thing to do to get the bad taste out of my mouth it’s going out there it’s going back to drawing board, going back to the slate working hard. That’s what we have at Wisconsin.”
That mentality is what Chryst stressed makes this senior class so special.
“They leave a legacy,” Chryst said. “Not just in what they do on the field, but how to go about every day.”
Senior Corey Clement said this game doesn’t define the Badgers season. Clement, who rushed for 166 yards against Penn State, said that while the loss “smacks you in the face,” all his teammates fought for all 60 minutes.
For that, Clement said he and hopefully none of his teammates have any regrets.
And for the younger players, the drive to fight harder, push through difficulties and return to Indianapolis are if anything stronger than before.
“There’s a lot of good that will come out of this,” safety D’Cota Dixon said. “We will bounce back. We will play. We will preserve and we will work hard. There’s no guarantees for every day for my brothers. We’ve just go to swallow this one and learn.”
There’s still one more game this season in a bowl game. The Badgers will take some time and then once again look forward. The final whistle has not blown on their 2016 year. This loss will take some time to decompress, but with some time the Badgers will be back because that’s how they play the game of Wisconsin football.