Fold under pressure? Badgers say no

Focus was firmly on Michigan State, UW players and coach again say

MADISON—Following Wisconsin's 49-14 loss to Michigan State Saturday night, a vein of discussion on ESPN's "College GameDay Final" program focused on the feeling that the Badgers had lost so convincingly because they had not handled the pressure of being undefeated.

Just as they had after Saturday's game, however, Wisconsin's available players and coach Barry Alvarez insisted Monday that the Spartans simply outplayed them and that they were moving on to focusing on Iowa. Direct questions regarding the ESPN comments, though, elicited emphatic responses.

"Those guys from ESPN don't know anything about our players," Alvarez said Monday. "You know, and that's easy, some talking head talk about pressure or not handle publicity. How do they know? I mean, how do you even, how do you know how their guys responded? How do you know about injuries? How do you know about match-ups? That's just, you know, it's not there. It's hard to put, I don't even like to respond to that because they don't know anything about what they're talking about. So I don't think there was anything about pressure that had anything to do with that game."

Two Badger players were available for interviews Monday—quarterback John Stocco and cornerback Scott Starks. The latter let out a slight chuckle when asked about the ESPN comments.

"We didn't put any pressure on ourselves at all," Starks said. "We always concentrate on the game at hand, on the task at hand. We didn't think about any other stuff. Bottom line is we just didn't execute, we didn't make enough plays and they came ready to play and they made plays that need to be made. I don't really think pressure had anything to do with it."

"I don't think it had anything to do with pressure," Stocco said. "Give credit to Michigan State. They played a heck of a football game. They played us tough in all three phases. Just flat out beat us. We didn't play our best ball but I don't think it had anything to do with pressure. We didn't play our best ball, they played a great game. Sometimes that happens."

The Badgers also reiterated that they felt their week of preparation had been solid.

"I thought we had a good week of practice," Starks said. "I don't think it was any different at all than what it had been in the past. The same team that had showed up all season didn't show up on Saturday."

Starks, Stocco and Alvarez all directed their comments Monday back to Iowa, despite a chorus of questions related to any hangover from the Michigan State loss.

"Losing doesn't feel good," Starks said. "The main thing that's been running through our mind is we have a job to do. Let's go out and make up for last week, this week. Just correct our mistakes and come out on top with a victory this week."

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