Notes: All is Not Lost

Even though the national championship is no longer in the picture, No.12 Wisconsin still has a lot to play for - winning the Leaders division, winning the Big Ten championship and going back to the Rose Bowl - and getting back on track starts with this weekend's trip to Ohio State.

MADISON - Whether it be on the plane flight home or on the bus ride to the stadium, Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema took off his headphones just to give a listen to what was being said around him. He heard nothing.

"It was extremely quiet," Bielema said. "I think the kids really absorbed the defeat."

It's expected that No.12 Wisconsin was shell shocked after its last-second 37-31 defeat on a Hail Mary pass at Michigan State on Saturday, but the challenge now is to turn the page to prepare for Ohio State in Columbus for another 7 p.m. prime-time game.

It will be a rare occurrence. Over the last three seasons, Wisconsin is 27-6, the fifth-best record in the country, meaning most of the Badgers' Sunday meetings are overwhelming positive, so positive in fact that the sophomores on the roster only had to experience one negative meeting after losing in East Lansing a year ago.

There isn't a lot of history, and Bielema made sure to let his team and coaches understand that he doesn't want to start a new trend.

"I said, ‘You should never get used to this feeling. It should hurt, be in your mind and it's something we need to get rid of and shake out (Sunday) night,'" Bielema said. "That was a very important thing for our guys to hear."

While the loss ended Wisconsin's nine-game conference winning season, plus snapped the team's 13-game regular-season winning streak, the carrot at the end of the stick is still large for the Badgers. Wisconsin is still 1-0 in its Big Ten division – Ohio State is 0-1 in the Leaders – and controls its own destiny to advance to the Big Ten championship game.

"When you are faced with adversity, you go back in what you believe in more than ever," Bielema said. "You don't flinch, you don't try to change what you are doing … and that's what we've got to have."

Bielema has seen how fortunes can change after two seasons at Kansas State in Big 12 division play. Losing its opening two games in the 2003 football season, Bielema recalled coach Bill Snyder saying that if the Wildcats take care of their business, the school can make the Big 12 championship game and get to a BCS game.

Snyder was right. Kansas State won its final six games, beat No.1 Oklahoma, 35-7, in the Big 12 championship game and got to go the Fiesta Bowl, losing 35-28 to Ohio State.

"Everyone looked at him like he had three heads," Bielema said of Snyder. "I explained (to the team) that this week is a divisional game … Those are big ones."

Saturday will be just the second time since 1974 that Wisconsin will go to Columbus as a ranked team and only the first time since 1963 with the Badgers being the only ranked team. As luck would have it, Ohio State seems to have found its groove and have a bye week to cultivate it.

After six straight weeks of endless turmoil and suspensions, and still awaiting a final verdict from the NCAA infractions committee, the Buckeyes seemed to land in some sort of sanctuary state with an old-fashioned 17-7 pounding of Illinois on the road, pounding the football and suffocating defense.

"To have a bye week right before us really keeps us in question what they are going to do," said Bielema, referring to Ohio State's flux at quarterback. "They look more and more like the traditional Ohio State as they get further into the season. Their defense is playing extremely well, playing with that attitude, that swagger … Unfortunately for us, I think Ohio State is getting better and better."

Although Wisconsin allowed 23 second-quarter points to Michigan State, the most points allowed in a single quarter since allowing 27 points in the third quarter against Northwestern on Oct. 8, 2005, the film showed resilience by his football team coming back from 14 points to tie the game.

"It gives me a lot of indication what I will see this week," Bielema said.

Defending the Timeouts

One of the bigger talks post game was whether Bielema was right in using his team's three timeouts to try and get the ball back for his offense. In hindsight, the move backfired, allowing Michigan State enough time to convert two third-down conversions and put them in position for the final heave.

Two days later, Bielema isn't backing off his decision to burn two timeouts.

"I thought if they were trying to go into overtime in any way, shape or form that I wanted to get the ball back," Bielema said. "We have the number one offense in the country, a quarterback who I have seen score at the end of the first half willingly (and) Phil Welch hit a 50-plus yarder going that direction in pre game warm-ups. If there was any way I could get the ball back, I wanted to do that.

"When they fumbled the ball and it was second-and-20, I called one immediately because we would probably get ourselves in a third-down situation. The clock was running to get to third-and-8 so I called one there obviously and they did a good job. They converted … Anytime you lose, you want to blame somebody and I should be to blame. I am the head coach but for a national perspective, there wasn't any doubt what was going to be done and that's what I did."

Senior quarterback Russell Wilson wasn't asked about the timeouts, but it was obvious where he stood on the issue.

"I definitely knew that if we got the ball back, I truly believe that we were going to win the game," Wilson said. "It just didn't happen. Coach Bielema obviously believed that, called some timeouts, and that's a good thing. He trust in our offense, our defense was doing a great job of stopping them, coming up with some big plays in the end and it just didn't work out."

From the Infirmary

In a conversation with strength coach Ben Herbert, Bielema was pleased to hear that Wisconsin was in a lot better physically than what the staff thought they would be after some a physical game, meaning the Badgers will be near full heath.

Junior defensive end David Gilbert (ankle) had an x-ray Monday and feels that if he gets the OK from the doctors that he can play this weekend. If not, Bielema expects Gilbert for the week after against Purdue.

"It's his birthday this week," Bielema said. "We're going to give him some birthday mojo, try to get him out there."

Dezmen Southward (shoulder) wasn't cleared at the end of the Michigan State game and Bielema said the coaches will take it easy with him this week.

Extra Points: No victory means no team MVPs given out by Wisconsin … The Big Ten announced Wisconsin's home game against Purdue on November 5 will be a 2:30 p.m. kickoff and will be televised by ABC regional, meaning the game will be shown on ESPN2 in some parts of the country.

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