The Wisconsin Badgers are currently ranked seventh in the BCS Standings but their perception around the nation is ranked much lower after last weekend’s game against Indiana. In that game, the Badgers steamrolled the Hoosiers 83-20 and many college football pundits around the country have accused Wisconsin’s head coach, Bret Bielema, of running up the score. Did he in fact run up the score deliberately? Just looking at the lopsided score I would say that he did, but I watched the game and I didn’t think so. Instead, it was the pitiful execution of the Hoosiers that allowed the game to get out of hand in the second half.
When Indiana’s quarterback went down with an injury in the second quarter, the game was tied at 10-10, and that marked the time when the Hoosiers stopped competing. From that point on Wisconsin scored 73 points not because Bielema was trying to embarrass the Hoosiers or impress poll voters, but because Indiana was absolutely pitiful and you don’t tell your backups not to try. Some may point to the 74-yard TD pass, which made the score 76-13 with seven and a half minutes left, but it was a broken play by their third string QB running a bootleg and he turned to throw the ball downfield and the guy was wide open. Surely they could have just ran the football for the rest of the game, but Bielema wanted to get his backups in the game because you never know when they are going to need them to step in and play. Critics may also point to the Austin Peay and Minnesota games as evidence that unsportsmanlike conduct is a growing trend with Bielema, but Indiana’s coach Bill Lynch didn’t think he was running up the score because, after all, it is their responsibility to stop them, and they didn’t.
Bret Bielema on ESPN Radio with Mike and Mike to talk about what his reaction is to people who think they tried to run up the score against Indiana, why they were passing the ball so late in the game when they were up by so much, and the notion that this isn’t the first time this season they have run up the score.
Whether it is surprising to him that the Computer polls have Wisconsin as the 12th best team in the country:
“You know I don’t know the specifics. I just know that the one thing that really jumps out are the computers vs. the human is I think people look at the points, obviously ironically I know you guys discussed yesterday, but I think it’s the game that gets decided by a convincing fashion against good teams that make statements and our game against Iowa was a one point game, the game against Ohio State we were up by 21 at one point, that has a big factor on how people vote vs. the computers that strictly go by winning and losing I think that can be a factor in it. Plus those computers have got to get programmed by somebody, so maybe we look at who is programming those babies.”
What his reaction is to people who think they tried to run up the score against Indiana:
“I actually discussed it in our postgame because if someone just looks at the score and anybody those anything about Wisconsin for us to score 83 points is unbelievable in itself but it was a 10-10 game in the second quarter. It was a battle going back and forth and then we scored three quick touchdowns before the half really on some, on a turnover and a really executed two-minute drill to go up at halftime and really preached to our kids coming out, hey we need to send a message coming out in the second half and play very well and stick to what we were doing and we did that. Then it kind of just steamwheeled from there. I get it when you look at the score and you see 83-20 but I think, Golic, you can understand. It was my fourth string center in the fourth quarter that was in there. He had been imitating the Indiana center all week. The long bomb that you referenced to that was a broken play where the receiver streaked and my second string quarterback, who could be my starting quarterback, in one play has thrown six passes in his college career, I needed to get him some work and I am not going to apologize for our guys playing well. That is what they did.”
Why they were passing the ball so late in the game when they were up by so much:
“Yeah that was exactly it. It was a third and five, we had run the ball the first two times, it was the second series I believe with my backup quarterback and then you know ironically the last touchdown was a naked bootleg with our fifth string quarterback on a third and four that we thought for sure he would get tackled. He broke free, you know. It was one of those games, I understand that but anybody that knows me and knows this program has an utmost respect for Coach Lynch and Indiana, obviously a conference opponent, and I thought the way they handled it and if you look at their comments would really give you the truest answer because they saw the game firsthand themselves.”
On the notion that this isn’t the first time this season they have run up the score:
“Yeah I think the Austin Peay game again, if you take that one it seems like ancient history, but yeah I agree. Again, it was our quarterbacks trying to get work, it was early in the season and we just had to get ready for the Big Ten. The two-point play against Minnesota was well-documented. We had gone up by the same exact score. We didn’t go for two the first time and went for one and they scored in a minute and eight seconds, a touchdown, and I know the card was supposed to go for two, I’m not going to be the game sitting in the postgame press conference, and I have been involved in conference games, that was a rivalry game, a border battle, that if swung twenty-one points in the fourth quarter I am not going to be the guy trying to answer why I didn’t go for two when the card said two. So you know there is going to be haters and everything. I know Greenie you are a Cubs fan, right? I sang the seventh inning stretch after my first season after going 12-1 with the Badgers and it wasn’t real popular with Badgers fans and Brewers fans. You’re never going to make everyone happy, you know?”
Tags: Badgers vs. Hooisers, Big Ten Conference Football, Bret Bielema, Did wisconsin run up the score?, unsportsmanlike conduct, Wisconsin Badgers, Wisconsin Badgers Head Coach Bret Bielema, Wisconsin steamrolled Indiana 83-20