Badger Nation's View from the Box

After winning 16 consecutive games at Camp Randall, the Badgers dropped two straight, including a 41-point beat down by Penn State. With execution and simple technique lacking, the Badger Boo Birds were out in full force.

MADISON - Two weeks ago, Wisconsin walked off the Michigan Stadium field at the end of the first half listening to the home crowd serenade the Wolverines with a chorus of boos. Those boos served as a lightening rod, energizing Michigan to help them erase the infamous 19-point deficit.

As Wisconsin exited Camp Randall, down 17 points to Nittany Lions, the Badgers heard the same type of Ann-Arbor boos. This time, the boos were directed at them and, unlike in Michigan, the boos didn't generate any second-half spark.

In fact, the boos got louder as the game continued, a sound that is a rarity inside the historic walls of Camp Randall over the past decade.

Who really could blame the 80,000 towel-waving Badger fans in attendance for showing their displeasure? Allan Evridge completed only two first-half passes, fumbled once and was failed to recognize where the defense was in throwing another interception.

Wisconsin allowed nearly 300 second-half yards, let Penn State score 31 unanswered points and the Badgers got into the red zone only once.

It got so bad that as soon as Jump Around ended, half the student section started streaming for the gates … and they shouted one final boo before they left.

"Of course (the boos) were justified," Jonathan Casillas said. "Penn State is a great team but they are not that good to beat us like that. We're not proving anything. We're not doing anything. We were really bad today."

The big issue Wisconsin has had to deal with this season is a lack of execution, a blame-game issue that traces a fine line between the players on the field and the coaching staff.

In conference games, Wisconsin ranks seventh in rushing defense (153.7 ypg), eighth in red zone defense (90 percent), ninth in scoring offense (16.3 ppg), ninth in scoring defense (31.7 ppg) and tenth in pass efficiency (96.4). If you're looking for a reason UW is 0-3 in conference, the old saying goes, 'The Proof is in the Pudding.'

Every Badger player that talked to the media said that they had a good week of practice and felt ready to play Penn State. If such is the case, is Penn State really that better? Did Wisconsin really exhaust every scenario during the week of preparation? Did the Badgers get out coached?

One thing is for certain, Bielema and the coaching staff are struggling to find the answers to the Badgers' problems. In the last four games, the offense has gone stagnate, the defense given up the big play, the red zone inefficiencies and a plethora of penalties.

Wisconsin was whistled for eight penalties for 72 yards, including four pre-snap penalties on the offense. Call it sloppy, undisciplined or unorganized but it's not winning football.

"As a player, I don't like it but as a team, we've got to do something for them to stop booing and we definitely didn't," linebacker Jae McFadden said.

At the midway mark of the season, the Badgers sit at .500 and needing three wins to become bowl eligible. But as we saw last year with Iowa and Northwestern, a 6-6 record doesn't guarantee you a bowl game, especially with the Big Ten only have seven bowl games at their disposal. Looking at Wisconsin's remaining six games, life is not going to be easy.

The Badgers will be going up against the second-best rushing defense in the league (98.3) this weekend (Iowa), face a spread-option offense that torched them last season (Illinois), will be going to a venue where they haven't won since 2002 (Michigan State) and a Minnesota-team that is vastly improved from a season ago and wants the axe for the first time since 2003.

One hopes the Badgers can win at Indiana (which is game sandwiched between MSU and Minnesota) and Cal Poly. After much frustration by fans towards the football program for pushing back the Virginia Tech series, the Cal Poly game could determine whether Wisconsin plays a 13th game, something that was unfathomable months ago.

"I never could envision anything like this for my senior year," Casillas said. "We come out and lose two straight to two 'quality' opponents and get physically man-handled by one of the best teams in the country. It is very disheartening. It sucks, for real, and we need to turn it around."

Casillas' wish can be accomplished on Saturday. Otherwise, there could be more boos in store for the Badgers when they come home for Illinois and Halloween weekend … and we're not talking about Casper the Friendly.


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