Upbeat Despite Defeat

Despite dropping two of its last three games and seeing Ohio State win a crucial conference game last weekend, Wisconsin's players are anxious to get back on the field following a bye week and matchup with No.19 Northwestern.

MADISON - Joel Stave was watching with his parents while Chris Borland was watching as part fan/part coach. And like most of their teammates on the University of Wisconsin football team, they were cheering for Northwestern to upset Ohio State in Evanston Saturday night.

"I think it was a great college football game," said Borland. "I really enjoyed watching it. It was two good teams going at it." Unfortunately for Borland, Stave and the rest of Wisconsin, Ohio State's 40-30 victory put the Badgers in a more precarious spot. With six games remaining in the conference schedule, No.4 Ohio State (6-0, 2-0 Big Ten) holds the tiebreaker and a one-game lead over Wisconsin (3-2, 1-1 Big Ten).

The Buckeyes face one ranked opponent the rest of the season and their final opponents went 2-4 last weekend in conference play. Wisconsin also only has one ranked opponent left – No.19 Northwestern comes to Camp Randall this weekend – but has two trophy games on the road.

"It really just comes down to taking care of business with what we can control," said Stave. "What we can control is this upcoming game and every game to follow. We just have to win, compete in every game we play and hopefully get ourselves in position at the end."

After being handcuffed with injuries in its 31-24 loss to Ohio State two weekends ago, Wisconsin should be healthy and rested following its first of two bye weeks in October for Saturday's key conference crossover game.

Tight end Jacob Pedersen (knee), offensive lineman Dallas Lewallen (leg), wide receiver Kenzel Doe (hamstring) and running back Melvin Gordon (knee) are expected to practice fully in practice this week and all are expected to play. Pedersen, Lewallen and Doe missed the game while Gordon was injured on the final play of the third quarter.

A number of other players – Sam Arneson (ribs), Brendan Kelly (hamstring) and Peniel Jean (leg) – played banged up against the Buckeyes and apparently are well healed, ready for the Wildcats and eager to get back on the field.

"Anytime you meet around 6:30, 7 in the morning, guys are half asleep, but looking around the meeting room (this morning) you could definitely tell," said Kelly. "Guys are taking notes, looking at the film, really paying attention.

"Sometimes through the course of the season you can get in this repetition mode where you get lulled to sleep. Definitely didn't see that. I saw guys with a lot of energy this morning, getting after it in their workouts and rehabbing. I am excited to go out to practice and see what we have."

Being the unique position of watching the team it just played playing the team it faces next on the schedule, Borland was impressed by Northwestern's ability to throw the football against Ohio State's secondary and called the Wildcats' use of quarterbacks Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian in different situations "dynamic."

"They kind of run two offenses, and both have the ability to run the other," said Borland. "It's complicated. It's going to take a lot of work this week."

History shows Wisconsin performs well in these types of situations. Dating back to 2009, the Badgers have won their last five regular-season games following a bye week, outscoring their opponents by a combined 243-44 in those games (an average of 48.6-to-8.8).

Even more encouraging, Wisconsin is 7-2 following a loss since the beginning of the 2010 season, nine losses that have all come by 10 points or less.

"We've experienced a lot of (close losses) and have always come back and play well after tough losses," said Borland. "You don't want to have to deal with it, but we are. We're going to deal with it the right way. There's been no lull in our excitement for the next week."

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