There are always two ways of seeing things, for Wisconsin the stats tell a very ugly story, but on the flip side is a young team that went in and dominated play early on Saturday night. On Monday head coach Bret Bielema chose to emphasis the positives following Wisconsin's 30-27 loss to Nebraska.
"The only thing you can deal with is the situation that you're in. We're 3-2. Would we rather be 5-0? Absolutely. We could also be 1-4," said head coach Bret Bielema during Monday's press conference.
"We've lost a Big Ten conference game, but we haven't lost anything within our division. This week it's not the case. We have Illinois coming to town, and Illinois is in our division, and they obviously want to go to Indianapolis as bad as we do. All you can do is focus on the task at hand."
Those statements are just a sampling of the positives that Bielema somehow took away from the debacle in Lincoln, NE on Saturday night.
On the other side of those positives are numbers that are shockingly bad for the Badgers, especially on offense.
Wisconsin's offense ranks 9th in the Big Ten in scoring offense at 22.6 points a game, just .6 points off the bottom of the league and if that weren't bad enough the deeper you dig into it the worse it gets. The offense ranks dead last in total offense, averaging just 309.4 yards a game, a full 40 yards less than the next worst team – our opponent on Saturday, Illinois.
Once feared for the ability to run the ball nearly at will the Badgers haven't been able to muster anything in terms of the rushing attack. The Badgers are averaging just 125.6 yards a game, dead last in the Big Ten. Seriously, we've got a statistically worse rushing attack than Iowa, Penn State, and Indiana – that's just pathetic at the moment.
Just when you thought it couldn't get worse – Wisconsin is also dead last in passing offense, averaging just 183.6 yards a game. Only Iowa, Northwestern, and Michigan State have fewer passing TD's than Wisconsin's 5 for the year. Oh, and on the flip side of that the Badgers have given up the most TD's passing of any team in the conference with 10.
The game against Nebraska was a huge microcosm of what's been happening stats wise for the Badgers all season long. Wisconsin's defense was about as bad as it has been all season long, giving up 259 yards rushing and allowing Taylor Martinez to do what he wanted nearly at will on his way to being named Big Ten Co-Offensive Player of the Week.
Wisconsin had just 56 yards rushing as a team and if you're keeping track at home that's a full 203 yards less than the Huskers managed on the ground.
But in keeping with Bielema's positive theme the Badgers do have some of the best special teams play in the Big Ten, coming in first in punting averaging 42.8 yards per punt and a 40.6 net average and owning the best kick coverage unit in the conference as well. So there's that, right?
Despite all of that evidence there was plenty to be gained from the loss to Nebraska and a lot to like about it as well.
"I learned a lot about our football team. I learned a lot about them in the first half, learned a lot about them in the second half," Bielema said. "I get excited because a lot of the things that you saw unfold, a lot of them came within our way of doing things."
You can't win games when you are giving up more yards than you are gaining, yet that's what Wisconsin is doing – giving up nearly 350 yards a game while only gaining 309 yards a game. Perhaps you can get away with that against the likes of UTEP and Northern Iowa, but do that against anyone in the Big Ten and you will lose.
The Nebraska loss had to be frustrating for the players and coaches a like, but taking the positive away from it could be the right thing moving forward.
"It's frustrating to lose a football game, but you can't let Nebraska beat you twice," said Bielema. "That's a very, very real thing in the world of college football."
Clearly coming out and ripping your team apart in a press conference isn't the right move, but at least Bielema and Co. recognize that the rest of the season is still in front of them and are keeping their chin up and fighting through it all, despite what the stats and record indicate.
"It's all in front of us." Bielema said in closing out his press conference. "We control our own destiny, and that's a great thing to be able to say."