Badger Nation's View from the Box

An overused philosophy might be just the thing that saves Wisconsin season. If not, it's 2007 all over again.

MADISON - If I had a dollar for every time head coach Bret Bielema or another member of the Wisconsin football mention the phrase ‘1-0,' I would file for early retirement.

Since Bielema first moved into the Wisconsin head coaching office in 2006, the fourth-youngest head coach in the nation has been full of anecdotes and whimsical phrases that have made for good television and team motivation and have annoyed the heck out of the media who hear it every week.

In the past three years, Wisconsin football has suffered only six losses and only once has Bielema's bunch suffered losses in back-to-back games. It's been a point that when a bump in the road occurs to learn from it, fix it and move forward starting Monday morning.

"(Going 1-0 is) a point that was a major emphasis in our meetings," Bielema said. "As soon as Sunday is over with, film session is over with (and) we go out to the practice field … and go forward."

After last Saturday, the latter part of Bielema's message is going to be the toughest.

It's no secret throughout Badger Nation what happened to Wisconsin in Ann Arbor. They choked. There! It's been said. Regardless of how many dropped passes the receivers had, how many yards the defense gave up in the second half or how many little things the Badgers did wrong, Wisconsin has set its sights on Ohio State and have tried to put the opener behind them.

"Going 1-0 is always important every week, especially now," senior tackle Mike Newkirk said. "We didn't live up to that this past Saturday but you have to put that game behind you, not let it beat you twice or get you down or keep you down."

But while the 1-0 philosophy can be pure window dressing, the Badgers have recently showed what can happen when an emotional hangover carries into the following week.

Last October, the Badgers were fifth in the polls and crumbled in Champaign against the Illinois spread-attack of Rashard Mendenhall and Juice Williams. One week after seeing their national title hopes take a body blow, the Badgers were knocked out cold in a 31-point drubbing in Happy Valley.

Throughout the remainder of the 2007 season, Wisconsin's upperclassmen admitted that Penn State did not beat them that day, it was the hangover from the Illini game beat them. But while the Badgers never led the Illini, Wisconsin was up (gulp) 19 over Michigan, only to have it ripped away from them in the last 20 minutes.

"We gave that game to them," senior Chris Pressley said. "We had too many mistakes, too many critical errors and we weren't executing. We can't let this game beat us twice. We had our ups and downs and we have got to learn from it. We are 1-0 now. We are 1-0 when we win. We are 1-0 when we lose."

Now the Badgers are put into virtually the same exact situation as they were a season ago, an emotional first loss of the season followed by a tough conference opponent. But while it was back-to-back road games last season, Wisconsin is returning to its friendly confines, where success is on its side.

Wisconsin has the second-longest current home winning streak in the country (16 games), has won 21 of its 22 night games (including the last 11 and six under Bielema) and the Badgers are the only Big Ten school with a winning record against ‘The Vest' (3-2).

Furthermore, if playing a Buckeye team that ripped a win away from Wisconsin last year with a 21-point fourth quarter isn't a touch of irony after last week, then the Badgers have no excuse for not getting up for this game.

"It's easy to go 1-0 when you are winning," senior DeAndre Levy said. "Once you lose, that's when you have it set in with guys. That's when it has to kick in."

"I love hearing our guys regurgitate what we say as coaches," Bielema added after he heard the 1-0 comments by his players. "And they really do believe in the things that we emphasize, and hopefully that will help them get through the time that they're in right now."

They better because if Wisconsin wins these next two games, the Badgers are right back in the conference title picture. If they don't, it's 2007, and failed expectations, all over again.


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