View From the Bleachers

Bielema pulled off a masterful coaching job getting his team ready for Ohio State. He will have to find that motivational skill again preparing his team for Iowa.

MADISON — In the world of college football, suffering a hangover Sunday morning is alright. In fact, it often marks the physiological keepsake of celebrating a successful game day. Wandos didn't fill to the brim Saturday night because fans wanted to whoop it up over the UW men's hockey team's 7-0 victory over Alabama-Huntsville.

It is when the hangover spills into Monday, Tuesday, etc… that issues arise. And with Wisconsin's 31-18 victory over previously No. 1 ranked Ohio State last Saturday, the temptation is as strong as J.J. Watt's pass rush to bask in the glow of victory all week.

"I wish this night could last forever," UW free safety Aaron Henry said after the game. "I know it's going to be over in a couple hours man."

If Wisconsin has any hope on building on that momentous occasion, the celebration needed to end sometime around 3 a.m. Sunday morning. Because a loss to Iowa — putting the Badgers at 2-2 in conference play — would just about doom any chance the season has of being a special one.

"We are going to celebrate tonight — oh boy are we going to enjoy this win tonight," UW captain and senior John Moffitt said. "But come Sunday it is right back to work, and get ready for Iowa."

If the UW coaches are looking for a gimmick to push on the team this week, posting the final score of South Carolina's 31-28 loss to Kentucky all over the locker room would not be a bad one. The Gamecocks were one week removed from taking down the unbeatable former No. 1 Alabama, but couldn't muster up enough energy to beat the weak Wildcats Saturday, giving up 21 straight points.

And Iowa is not Kentucky.

The No. 13 team in the country, the Hawkeyes forced the Badgers into their worst game last season with three interceptions from Scott Tolzien, a non-existent run game and general disarray with a fearsome front seven. It took a week of insanely hard practice to be prepared for the Buckeyes game, it will take at least the same if not more mentally to get ready to go on the road and maintain the intensity level that propelled them to victory Saturday.

Badger head coach Bret Bielema knows it.

"I've already had my first thought [about Iowa]," Bielema responded when asked when he would start thinking about the next opponent. "This is a game, I believe in my career, we're 2-2 (against the Hawkeyes). I'm sure you guys will write about it all week.

"Iowa is a program, much the same as Ohio State, that we have a lot of respect for because of the way they handle their business, the way the execute."

If there was ever a time when UW must heed the "1-0" maxim they brand on ever incoming freshman each season, this would be it.

Unfortunately, Wisconsin has shown itself vulnerable to prolonged emotional setbacks before. In the past three seasons with Bielema as head coach, UW followed its first loss of the year with another loss the next week.

Last year was no different, with the Badgers struggling to overcome a particularly galling defeat at the hands of the Buckeyes and came out flat against Iowa.

Bielema pulled off his most inspiring coaching performance to date last week, walking the fine line of emotional balance between amped and sloppy with hitherto unseen savvy. He will require another performance like that this week to keep the team's pulse beating at the right pace.

Otherwise the hangover Sunday may have a more bitter taste in the morning.

Michael can be reached at bleach.michael@gmail.com or follow him on twitter @michaelbleach.


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