For those of you who read here often, you realize from my post from Jim Tressel last week that I obviously had a rooting interest for Wisconsin in last Saturday’s matchup with Ohio State. The fact that the Badgers pulled off the upset was fantastic in my eyes and was only trumped by the fact that they did it the Wisconsin way.
Sure, the Badgers started with an electrifying special teams play, but they won that game by playing a grind-it-out, run-first style that they’ve become known for over the past two decades.
But, also as a fan of college football in general, it was a bit refreshing to see that style work on the biggest stage. Style points are good and a bevy of points is better, but I’ve got no problem with a team winning like that.
And neither does Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema, who calls it American football.
Bret Bielema joined The Jim Rome Show to discuss whether he expected early success against Ohio State, if he thought it would be a close game once his team was up three scores, what it was like to head to the locker room with the victory and the students storming the field, if the Badgers sent a message by winning with smashmouth football, if he felt like he needed a signature victory and how he’ll try to get his team back up for another ranked opponent on the road at Iowa this week.
On whether he expected the early success on Saturday:
“To sit here now and say you expected it, everybody’s going to question you. But I did expect success. We preached that to our kids all week. The last three games against Ohio State, we came up on the short end but played well and just hadn’t closed it out. Kids started pressing in games past. I just told them, ‘It’s going to be a four-quarter game, execute the task, play within yourself and we didn’t need any superhuman efforts.’”
On whether he believed it would be a close game when it was 21-0:
“It was. Ohio State’s a good team. Obviously they were ranked No. 1 for a reason, they’ve had success year-in and year-out. A great factor for us is we had that game at home. Camp Randall was electric and the crowd was really into it. Give respect to our fans because they really made it a special night.”
On what it was like to head to the locker room as the fans were storming the field:
“It was very intense. What we’ve tried to do over the course of the years here is get our student section here on time. When they do show up, they’re one of the best in the country. They have a tendency, here at Wisconsin, to come a little late. It hopefully showed them how much of an effect they can have on us. You can’t have a better start to the game than a kickoff return for a touchdown and that place was rocking from the get-go.”
On whether Wisconsin sent a message by winning with smashmouth football:
“We do. We call it American football around here. Two tight ends, two backs, one wide receiver and occasionally get two wide receivers on the field, but it was [a message]. … What we do 365 days a year came through on Saturday. Our kids really imposed their will and it was really fun to watch.”
On whether he felt the need for a signature win:
“Yeah. I heard quite a bit about my record and we’ve done so many good things here, but bottom line, for us to get where we want to be in this league, especially this league moving forward, we knew that Ohio State is usually in the road to a championship. Next year, starting with a new alignment, they’re in our division, so for us to even get to the conference championship game, we’re going to have to be ahead of them. So it was a real big statement for our guys and something that we talked about quite a bit.”
On how he’ll get his team right back up again for a road game against nationally ranked Iowa:
“You have to understand that to play in this conference and to win at a high level in this conference, you have to play well on the road. Everybody can play well at home. We did that. Mark that one on your checklist. … Now, we need to go on the road. Our only Big Ten opponent this year on the road is Michigan State and we didn’t fare very well. Every kid new it riding home on that plane ride, watching the film the next week and living it for the next week, we let one get away from us. I think to have that pain in your memory and to be able to rely upon that, it may be a different way of motivating them, but to get the same results this week.”