Wisconsin gets 2nd chance at The Granddaddy of Them All

first_imgBradie Ewing was the first Wisconsin Badger to emerge from the Lucas Oil Stadium visitors’ locker room just about two weeks ago, more than happy to greet the horde of reporters awaiting him.Ewing’s Badgers had just avenged one of the most harrowing moments of their wild season – a crushing last-second loss at Michigan State on Oct. 22 – in the first-ever Big Ten championship game over those very Spartans. The 42-39 victory had it all – the now-standard lightning-quick start by the Badgers, a second-quarter collapse that resulted in a halftime deficit and a riveting second half that culminated in a stone-cold fourth-quarter gut check.“It was pretty calm,” Ewing said of Wisconsin’s locker room at halftime, when the Badgers trailed 29-21 despite jumping on the Spartans in the first quarter with a 21-7 lead. “We had been in that position before, and guys weren’t flustered. We came out; some different guys said stuff, coach [Bret Bielema] said stuff, some of the captains said some things.”Ewing, the team’s starting fullback and one of this year’s four senior captains, is one of UW’s best spokesmen. Growing up in Richland Center, just about 90 minutes from Madison, Ewing briefly flirted with basketball before walking on to Bielema’s squad. In the four years since, very few people have been more apt to discuss the state of the program.“It’s just all about taking it one play at a time and just going out there and executing,” Ewing said. “We were prepared [at halftime]; we knew what we had to do.”Now that Wisconsin is Rose Bowl-bound for the second consecutive year, priorities have shifted. Last year’s magical season had moments like the riveting upset of then-undefeated, No. 1 Ohio State at Camp Randall Stadium, with a ridiculously tough upset of the Iowa Hawkeyes in Iowa City the next week. Then came the trip to Pasadena, where Wisconsin met the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs, a team that may have been better than anybody ever gave them credit for.TCU beat Wisconsin 21-19, and Madison was stunned. This was a fan base that had fallen in love with J.J. Watt’s charisma and work ethic, the three-headed monster at running back with John Clay, Montee Ball and James White and the identity Bielema had forged for the program.With their victory in Indianapolis, the Badgers return to Pasadena Jan. 2 grateful to be back after those two late-October losses seemed to doom their season – but make no mistake, their lone goal is winning the game.“You dream of getting to play in one Rose Bowl, let alone two or potentially more,” offensive lineman Travis Frederick said. “So for us to get a chance to play again – we want to go out and win a Rose Bowl this year, and not just play in the Rose Bowl.”last_img

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