Brazzoni: Victory over USC defines what Wisconsin football meant in 2015

first_imgComing into their Holiday Bowl showdown against USC, the Wisconsin football team had played two opponents that would be considered quality: Iowa and Northwestern.Both teams finished the season ranked in the top 15, both teams are playing on New Year’s Day and both teams needed a little bit of luck to get past Wisconsin this year.First, against Iowa, Wisconsin had as good an opportunity as they were going to get that Saturday afternoon to find the end zone against one of the nation’s best defenses. They were on the one-yard line and were a simple handoff away from the lead. Quarterback Joel Stave takes the snap, trips over one of his linemen and fumbles. The Badgers never saw another scoring opportunity like that.Breakdown: Iowa 10, Wisconsin 6For the second straight season, the Wisconsin football team dropped its Big Ten opener. This year, the Badgers (3-2, 0-1 Read…Then, against Northwestern, the Badgers thought they had the game won. Wide receiver Jazz Peavy caught a touchdown pass that looked to have given the Badgers the lead and the victory in their final game of the season at Camp Randall. Upon further review, however, the officials declared Peavy did not complete the process of the catch and it was ruled incomplete. The Badgers were unable to find the end zone after that.Football breakdown: Wisconsin loses in heartbreaking fashion to NorthwesternIn a game where the Wisconsin football team rushed for a total of -26 yards, they were never out of Read…Two quality opponents, two losses and there wasn’t much reason to believe Wisconsin could pull out a victory against their third and final quality opponent in the Trojans Wednesday.USC came into the Holiday Bowl boasting one of the most high-powered offenses in the country thanks to the likes of quarterback Cody Kessler and wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster — two of the best in the nation at their respective positions.However, it also served as the perfect final test for this Wisconsin team. The Badgers’ top-ranked scoring defense hadn’t been truly tested all season and their offense had not been fully healthy through any of the first 12 games played.And to start, UW was passing the test. Their defense was playing strong, Stave and the entire offense was playing efficiently. While the Trojans were hanging around, it appeared as though the Badgers had a firm grasp on the game.But then, it happened. Everything seemed to be going right, but then one play looked to have changed the course of the entire game; a situation the Badgers were far too familiar with and never able to overcome.Down one in the fourth quarter and in need of a score, Tanner McEvoy took the ball out of the backfield and headed toward to sideline. Following good blocking and a broken tackle, McEvoy was headed for the end zone. That is until the officials blew the play dead, saying McEvoy stepped out of bounds.Because the play was blown dead, it was not reviewable. However, replays showed McEvoy did not in fact step out of bounds and the play should have ended in a Wisconsin score. The Badgers were unable to recover and ultimately punted the ball away.For the third time this season, the Badgers could smell the end zone, only to have it swiped away from them when they least expect it. And a similar fate seemed to be upon the cardinal and white. They couldn’t catch a break and they wouldn’t recover, a scenario that had defined the team’s 2015 season up to that point.Something always had to go wrong, but Wednesday night, the Badgers decided that they needed to make sure things went right.And for once, things did go right. USC never came close to scoring again, Rafael Gaglianone put any and all kicking woes from his sophomore season behind him and UW would ultimately walk away with the 23-21 victory.It was a victory that defined this football team. It defined a season of constant bumps in the road, lack of confidence in an offense under a first-year head coach and not knowing who was going to take the field on a week-by-week basis. Because despite all of that, one bowl victory made fighting through all that adversity worth it.One cannot let a trip at the goal line or the misinterpretation of an already controversial rule define this Wisconsin season.Because while teams will commonly tell you that they don’t let one game define them, I think this Badger team will be happy to tell you otherwise regarding what occurred Wednesday.On one night, Stave made smart, efficient passes to a finally healthy set of receivers, the defense dominated when they had to and the team fought through the adversity that had plagued them so harshly this season.This one night defined what Wisconsin football is supposed to be about, and on this one night, the Badgers can finally celebrate that marquee victory they’ve been searching for.last_img

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