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Point/Counterpoint: Whose loss was worse for the Big Ten?

BY DI STAFF | SEPTEMBER 11, 2012 6:30 AM

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Six Big Ten football teams suffered defeats on Sept. 8, an uncanny number for nonconference play.

Removing Iowa from the conversation, the DI sports staff debated two other tough losses and which game should have been a sure W for the Big Ten. NOTE: Rankings reflect Week 2.

Oregon State 10, No. 13 Wisconsin 7

Wisconsin wins the award for the Big Ten’s worst loss in Week 2.

The Badgers laid a major egg in Corvallis, Ore., where they were overwhelmed in a 10-7 loss to unranked Oregon State.

The defeat was bad for Wisconsin, but unlike the other losses this past weekend, it damaged the Big Ten the most.

First of all, the Badgers were picked by many experts to win the conference and return to the Rose Bowl for the third-straight season. They were ranked No. 13 nationally heading into the affair and hadn’t lost a regular-season nonconference game since 2003. In a conference that is desperate to field any team capable of possibly beating an SEC side, Wisconsin’s high-ranking was vital.

They have since fallen out of the top 25.

Also, the Big Ten has had recent trouble finding victories west of the Missouri River, and the Badgers’ loss was another in the conference’s long line of failures on Pac-12 soil. The Big Ten has won two Rose Bowls since the turn of the century, and Saturday may be the precursor to another postseason defeat.

Don’t forget, a bad team dominated Wisconsin.

The Beavers finished with a 3-9 record last season, including a 35-0 shellacking by Wisconsin in Madison. The Badgers entered the game as 11-point favorites and were coming off consecutive 11-win seasons and trips to the Rose Bowl.

You would never have guessed last weekend.

The vaunted Wisconsin offense slept for three and half quarters before remembering that points mattered and scored a touchdown with 1:31 left in the game. A controversial onside kick that was wrongfully awarded to Oregon State allowed many Big Ten faithful to save face and cry conspiracy, but the result couldn’t hide the offensive debacle:

207 total yards and 7 points on a 3-9 football team.

The bottom line is that the conference suffered several bad losses this past weekend, including two others to Pac-12 teams — although all were away games for the Big Ten teams. But this was Wisconsin, a squad that could accomplish big things for the downtrodden Big Ten in 2012.

Alas, like their fellow members, the Badgers were revealed as frauds and their defeat was the coup de grâce of one of the worst days in conference history.

— Tom Clos

No. 22 UCLA 36, No. 16 Nebraska 30

Let me just start by saying that I called this game in our weekly On the Line segment of *Pregame* right when I heard about the matchup.

Yes, Nebraska was the No. 17 team, and UCLA has been off the radar for a long time, almost forever, but I just had a gut feeling.

I had a gut feeling that Nebraska would let something like the Bruins’ home-field advantage get to them in too many negative ways.

And it did.

The Bruins bested the Huskers, 36-30. And the Bruins out-rushed the Huskers, 344-260. And the Bruins out-passed the Huskers, 309-179. And the Bruins out-played the Huskers in general.

UCLA topped Nebraska in nearly every stat on the stat sheet, and the Bruins also just played with more fire. The West Coast team went the extra step on a block, found the extra burst of speed on a carry, and jumped the extra inch or two of height from a tight end’s leap.

The Bruins were far more aggressive, which is evident in the four extra penalties and 126 total yards on penalties — over twice the yards that the Cornhuskers gave up on flags.

But being aggressive also has its positives, such AS Andrew Abbott’s 24-yard interception return of a Taylor Martinez throw.

Then there’s just the fact that UCLA played with heart. The Bruins were the underdogs, and they knew it, so they rose to the occasion. As a team. When there’s a group of 100 men who want a win so badly, they can manage to beat a QB such as Martinez.

And that’s why Nebraska’s loss is the most embarrassing. Yes, the numbers are dreadful, but they just got out hoopla-ed. They got lazy and let a crowd in the Rose Bowl believe more in the Bruins than the Huskers believed in themselves.

Nebraska got lazy; that’s why the Big Red’s loss is the most shameful for the conference.

Also, the Huskers lost to P. Diddy’s son.

—Molly Olmstead


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